I hope people who celebrate Judeo-Christian festivities are holding up? Hannukah and Christmas have a way of grinding us down as well as buoying as up. So much preparation and craziness before the celebrations themselves, followed by …. so much eating and drinking (AND cleaning up afterwards, let’s not forget). Anyway, it just dawned on me that a lot of squash and pumpkin is available this time of year and that one could put it to good use not just for a risotto but also for a …. for something similar, using barley instead of rice. It’s called “orzotto” and is jolly good. I made one a few years ago and am reposting the recipe because only three people read that post back then; who knows, maybe some of you might be interested in making one now? Anyway, you know the drill by now. I start off a post with a fair amount of bla bla. So if you want to skip that by all means do. Go straight to where it reads “ingredients”.
Invited to an inauguration for future cooking classes in a fine kitchen-ware shop called “Ottagoni” in Rome’s Trastevere area last week …..
I espied a lone-looking chef deep within the bowels of this snazzy showroom selling Cesar kitchens. I would have made a beeline in his direction but the throng was such that I had to dart in and out of oncoming human traffic …
And so it took me some time …
His name is Andrea Trenta and he told me that he used to run a restaurant near Sacrofano. Bent as he was on preparing what he was preparing, I did not want to pester him by posing too many questions … but I could not stop myself from ooohing and aaahing over his inventive dish!
What I was oohing and aahing over was … an Orzotto (made with pearl barley) that he was preparing using squash/pumpkin and mostarda essence, with amaretti bisuits and pecorino romano. Clever thing!, I thought to myself … he has drawn on the tradition of Mantova by using squash and amaretto biscuits, he has made it seasonal (pumpkin) and he has made it ‘local’ by using products and produce that were sourced directly from the organic farm Ecofattorie Sabine (http://www.ecofattorie.it/).
He explained the amounts he was playing with : 4kg of pearl barley, 6kg of pumpkin/squash, 1.5 kg of pecorino. Not the sort of amounts I normally deal with in my own kitchen!
Pumpkin soup, onion, pear barley, amaretti biscuits, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, butter, pecrino romano cheese, fresh sage leaves
I made some carrot and pumpkin soup the other day and I had some left over … and so I thought I would follow Andrea Trenta’s suit … and here is my version then.
The packet of pearl barley … (bought at a supermarket, note, not something I do often … and that’s because I didn’t do the shopping. Helpful helper was asked to kindly do the food shopping and when I asked for pearl barley, said helper trotted off to the supermarket, tsk tsk).
I crushed the amaretti first … and added them towards the end of the cooking time. I added the balsamico immediately afterwards. After stirring them in and tasting, I added a little salt and white pepper.
And that was it!
It was actually very very nice and I am going to make it again. The only thing I hadn’t realised … is that barley takes between 30 and 40 minutes to cook, much longer than a risotto.
Thank you Andrea Trenta!
P.S. For those who did not know, barley is one of those super foods:
PPS Here is another pearl barley orzotto recipe — there must be a “Great-Minds-Think-Alike as Regards Pearl Barley Syndrome” wending through our autumnal kitchens! –posted by peripatetic food lover and chef-on-the-move Kay Gale recently: http://thesinglegourmetandtraveller.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/mushroom-rocket-orzotto/