Barley and Vegetable Stew

Another one-pot meal for cooler weather featuring a wealth of warmly-coloured root vegetables and creamy barley.  The whole thing comes together quickly in a pressure cooker (or InstantPot) and to get the grounding and creamy texture at its best, there’s just no substitute.  The recipe is an adaptation of Holly Davis’ Pressure-Cooked Barley Broth With Root Vegetables.  The original calls for potatoes, onions, garlic, tamari and ume plum vinegar which are all on the “don’t go there for at least a couple of weeks post-cleanse” list.  It also recommends using fish stock, which is off my list all the time.  To get the rich and layered umami flavor, this version uses a mixed sea vegetable stock that’s a cinch to make and a good substitute anytime a fish stock is called for.

Yield: 8 cups

What you need:

  • a 2″ piece kombu seaweed
  • 1 teaspoon wakame granules
  • 3 tablespoons dulse seaweed
  • 3 cups boiled water
  • 1 cup pot barley
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined, untoasted, sesame oil
  • 2 cups sliced leek
  • 1 cup rutabaga, about half a medium-sized one, quartered and sliced thickly
  • 2 cups roll cut carrots
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered and thickly sliced
  • a 1-1/2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper

What you do:

  1. In a large glass measuring cup, place the kombu, wakame and dulse seaweeds.  Pour the boiled water overtop and cover with a plate to trap the steam.  Set aside several hours or overnight.
  2. Soak the pot barley several hours or overnight in lots of fresh water to cover.  Drain and set aside.
  3. When the sea vegetable stock is done soaking, compost the kombu.  Strain out the wakame and dulse with your fingers, squeeze out as much liquid as possible and chop finely.  There should be about 1/4 cup in all.
  4. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat or using the ”sauté” function if it’s an InstantPot.  Add the leek and cook, stirring often, until the leek softens.  Add the grated ginger and stir and fry another minute or two.  Add the drained barley, carrots, rutabaga and sweet potatoes.  Stir to cover mix everything well.  Add the 3 cups of sea vegetable stock, the sliced sea vegetables, salt and several twists of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Fit the lid on the pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook 20 minutes allowing a natural pressure release.  If using an InstantPot, 20 minutes on multigrain cycle with natural release.
  6. Open the lid, stir once or twice from the bottom being careful not to break up the vegetables and serve.  Additional oil can be drizzled on top if desired.

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