This colourful dish is both visually vibrant and delicious. The sweet earthiness of the beetroot is perfectly complemented by the tangy taste of goat’s cheese and Parmesan. The pearl barley gives the dish a pleasing texture, soft but with a slight chewiness. In my opinion this makes for a more interesting experience than risotto rice. As an added bonus, pearl barley is also cheaper.[pullquote]This exuberantly coloured dish not only looks great, it also has a low glycemic-index.[/pullquote]
The nutritional focus of this week’s recipe is barley. The reason for this is that it has the lowest glycemic index of all the grains. A while ago I wrote an article on why sugar is bad for the skin. This explained that when the body processes sugar, damaging chemical by-products are released. There is another reason to avoiding sugar. Sugar, or indeed any ‘quick-burn’ carbohydrate create spikes in blood sugar. These sudden highs and lows can have an unwelcome impact upon mood and energy levels.
The benefits eating a low-glycemic index diet have been known for some time. Foods that are low glycemic index release energy slowly and avoid these sudden spikes in blood sugar. But did you know that a low glycemic index diet can help banish pimples? A 2007 Australian study showed that a group placed on a low GI diet had fewer pimples after 12 weeks than a control group on a high-carb, high GI diet. As well as being a low GI grain, barley (like oats) contains soluble fibre, is a good source of beta glucans, magnesium and the antioxidant selenium.
Additionally, beetroots can be classed as a superfood in their own right. They contain homocysteine lowering betaine, and are a rich source of B-complex vitamins and the minerals iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium.[pullquote]Foods that are low glycemic index release energy slowly and avoid these sudden spikes in blood sugar. But did you know that a low glycemic index diet can help banish pimples?[/pullquote]
2 hours for long version
40min for quick cheat version
- 3 medium beetroots, stems removed
- 1, 400 ml vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 440g pearl barley
- 120ml dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 40g finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Rocket and soft white goats cheese to serve
Serves 4 to 6
- Preheat the oven to 425°F / 220C/ Gas Mark 6. Tightly wrap the whole unpeeled beetroots in foil and roast on a baking tray for approximately 1 ½ hours, until very tender, Remove from the oven and allow to cool, about 20 minutes.
- When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel and dice into ½ inch cubes.
Quick Cheat: If time is short or if fresh beetroots are unavailable, skip these first 2 steps and simply replace 100ml of the vegetable stock for 100ml of beetroot juice
- Bring the stock to a simmer. Cover, and keep at a low simmer in preparation for step 8.
- Melt half of the butter in a large pan over a medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.
- Add the barley and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute.
- Stir in 120ml of the hot stock and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Continue simmering and adding the stock, about 120ml at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until barley is just tender and creamy-looking. Allow 25 to 30 minutes for this step.
- Add the diced beetroots, season with salt, and pepper and stir until heated through.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then the Parmesan.
- Serve with crumbled goat’s cheese and fresh rocket.