Ground into flour or added to soups, barley was found to be the food most highly associated with living to 100 among Sardinian men. We don’t know if it is because of barley’s high protein, magnesium, and fiber content, or because it pushed other less healthy foods out of the diet, like white wheat flour. Ironically, barley was considered a poor man’s food until recently, when it has made a comeback in Sardinian haute cuisine. This walnut and pear barley recipe is a pretty traditional approach as it is cooked much like rice and then topped with seasonal pear and walnut to sweeten it.
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup pearl barley
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup peeled and cored ripe pear, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2/3 cup chopped California walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup snipped fresh parsley
1. Cook shallots in a medium skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened. Add barley; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in spices and cook for 1 minute more.
2. Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until barley is tender and chewy.
3. Stir in pear and cook for 5 minutes or until pear is tender; cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the chopped walnuts and parsley. Serve.