Recipe Thursday: Creamy Beans & Barley en Brodo with Roasted Cauliflower

You just read that title twice, didn’t you, because it instantly sounds soooooo good. If you are on lockdown and need some magickal, relatively healthy, homey food – don’t fret. If you are out and about in the countryside (where here it is still pretty chilly), this will warm you up. If you are just looking to amp up your broth making skills and combo bowls, this is the ticket.

I love making parmesan chicken broth for this (especially in all the germ busting  concerns, I want all the goodness) but it is equally easy and very satisfying to make veggie broths (or just parm broths) for this meal, as well. I save all my parmesan ends and freeze them for just these moments. Everything in this dish can be suited to your cupboards – kale or broccoli for the cauliflower (or even sweet potato/winter squash, this is a good dish to use up any frozen kale or broccoli ends you might have stashed), the cream can be substituted for cashew milk/cream or coconut milk (or do without the creaminess, it will still be lovely), the barley for farro/spelt/wheatberries/wild or brown rice or even tortellini/egg noodle), and any beans that suit you – canned cannellini, chickpea, soldier beans, lentils (though I can’t picture kidney or black as much – but not impossible)…

A good parm broth is an amazing thing – this one is the ‘mother of all parm broths’, but I also just add parmesan to the broths I’m making and it adds an extra depth and deliciousness (just stir every now and again so it doesn’t glop up on the bottom and stick to the pan). My basic chicken broth is the standard go-to: it entails a couple of chicken carcasses (I save those up in the freezer, too) or even just last night’s leftover chicken into the pot with some garlic, onion, carrot, celery if you have it (all chopped roughly), thyme (dried or fresh), salt, chopped 1″ turmeric root (if you have it, or 1/4 tsp ground, or one small knob dried root) – add enough water to cover all, boil/simmer until reduced to a delicious gold – drain everything (pick the chicken meat off if any, add back to broth) and then add parmesan for this dish.

If making a vat of bone broth cook longer and a little ACV (one chicken = 2 Tbsp). I boil it for about 3 days, just leaving it on the stove and adding more water as needed, and any additional veg parts that come my way.

If doing veggie broth, I do about the same with the vegetables but change the turmeric to 1/8 tsp and add 1/8 tsp cumin, chili powder, 2 chopped tomatoes or 14oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, and a chopped potato (I find browning some vegetables like the onion/carrot can add nice depth as well, and using alcohol like beer or wine to deglaze for body), and for creaminess add some smashed roasted garlic. To increase a sense of creaminess with veg broth for this dish below, you can also puree half of the roasted cauliflower.

Note: If using storebought dried beans, soak overnight (unless lentils) – if they are your own dried beans they (like lentils) will need a preboil but not an overnight soak.

Creamy Beans & Barley en Brodo with Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4-6

1 head of cauliflower (cut into 2″ florets and chunks)
1 cup dried beans (or 30oz canned/boxed/cooked) [today I am using our leftover motley of beans that we grew last year – True Cranberry Pole beans which are gorgeous, Marfax which I adore, and Tiger’s Eye which look like the Cranberry and Marfax were fooling around in the jar] See note above recipe regarding dry beans.
2 Med carrots, chopped
1 Med onion, chopped
1 cup dry hulled barley (farro/spelt/fregola/rice, etc)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 (3-4″) parmesan ends without paper (scrape off wax or paper)
4 cups of broth (more to consistency preference, remember cream will also add liquid)
1/2 pint of cream (or 1 can coconut milk, etc)
a few sprigs of fresh or dried sage (or rosemary)
Salt & Pepper to taste
olive oil for drizzling after and for roasting cauliflower
can also sprinkle hot chili powder and sumac over top to serve for extra ZING!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put cauliflower on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle salt & pepper, toss to coat. Roast for about 40min, turning pan about halfway through (you can turn your cauli if you want, too, but we rarely do).

Meanwhile, on the stovetop, bring prepared beans to simmer in broth with parmesan (taste – when still firm but on their way) add onion/carrot/garlic/sage and barley. Continue to actively simmer; should take about 45 minutes further for both bean and barley to be tender). Check for consistency and add cream. Let simmer 5 minutes more.

It’s at this point your preferences come into play – if you like it thicker, cook a little longer before adding cream to reduce. If cream is already in and you want it thicker, puree a little of the cooked cauliflower. If you need it thinner, add more broth or water to loosen stew. Salt and Pepper to taste. We like our moderately thick with barley and beans with a little pooling of broth around it – like porridge (but that might depend on if J wants to dip bread in it, then you want more broth, for sure).

Add roasted cauliflower florets (yes, some will be meltingly deliciously carmelized and super tender, all the better), drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sumac and chili and ENJOY!

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Published by Rachael M Rollson

creative life-learner

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