After returning from four healthy days at Rancho La Puerta, where the cuisine is lacto-ovo vegetarian, and includes a seafood "catch of the day" five to six times a week for dinner (a lacto-ovo vegetarian is one who does not eat animal flesh of any kind, but consumes dairy and egg products), this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe featuring barley was very timely.
Just when John thought I might surprise him with a big juicy bacon cheeseburger for dinner, I served him a salad like one we would be enjoying on the olive-shaded patio outside the grand Spanish Colonial dining room at Rancho La Puerta. It was a little tough on both of us during our visit. John threatened to cook bacon in our casita's fireplace and open the windows to taunt some of the other guests with the aroma, and I was ready to smuggle wine in my water bottle to enjoy during dinner. But we managed to make it through the four days and returned home motivated to make some healthy changes in our lifestyle. I'll be writing an article for Wine & Dine San Diego about our visit to the Ranch soon.
Dorie's Lemon Barley Pilaf is designed to be served hot alongside chicken, veal, pork of fish. Another variation is serving the cooled pilaf tossed with diced chicken, ham, peas, and sliced scallions, over lightly dressed arugula or spinach, and topped with a mint and olive oil coulis.
I made my own salad variation, tossing the cooled pilaf with a lightly dressed herb salad mix, blanched green beans, and baby Roma tomatoes, and topped with grilled shrimp. I found the lemon barley pilaf to be a bit bland on its own as a side dish, and my salad would have benefited from a zestier vinaigrette.
A slightly adapted version of Dorie's Lemon Barley Pilaf recipe can be found on Epicurious. Note that the recipe in Around My French Table calls for cooking 1/2 cup pearl barley in 1 3/4 cups chicken broth and 1/2 cup water (Epicurious uses 3/4 cup barley and 2 cups chicken broth). I found Dorie's 2 1/4 cups liquid to be too much and had to drain the barley after cooking. Dorie also adds sliced scallions, in addition to the lemon zest, to the cooked pilaf just before serving.
|Morning hike to Alex's Oak, overlooking Rancho La Puerta|
|Early morning on the Olive-shaded patio|
|One of the Ranch dinner entrees|
|One of the Ranch desserts|
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s book Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!