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parsnip, mushroom, and barley “stuffing”

September 12, 2018

I was craving stuffing, but trying to cut back on bread and eat more whole grains and veg. Solution? Tried this “parsnip, mushroom, and barley wreath,” with stuffing flavors like sage and nutmeg. My first nut loaf!

I was immediately suspicious of this recipe using a “flax egg” to bind the ingredients. So I made two – a small version held together with the flax egg, and a larger one without. As I suspected, the one with the flax egg was mucilaginous and slimy. It was downright creepy – and to add insult to injury, it didn’t even stay together.

Made a bunch of alterations to the original recipe, which cuts the cost (and sliminess) considerably. I went with hulled barley, which has more of the whole grain, and is therefore chewier and heartier than the white pearled barley you’ve seen in soup. Whole-grain hulled barley requires a lot more flavor than I added. So this recipe is a work in progress. I would add bouillon to stock next time, plus some aromatics like bay leaf or garlic cloves. Mushrooms and parsnips are amazing together – make sure to use a bunch, especially if you’re not using pearled barley – the sweetness will help cut that grain flavor.

Keep in mind that without the flax egg, this is less of a “loaf” and more of a “grain side” – it looks like rice pilaf or fried rice, not a cohesive “loaf”. Experiment with the flax egg if you want, but you’ve been warned…

–adaptation #1–
Prepare barley. If hulled, use way more bouillon than you think you should. Use stock or broth, not water, or it will taste boring. Add aromatics and simmer for an hour.

Separately, roast a half a head of garlic. Start a pan with butter or coconut oil, and add some chopped up parsnip and onion. Caramelize. Add a ton of mushrooms and cook down. Add rosemary, sage, and nutmeg. Turn off heat when completely cooked, and take pan off heat. (optional) Add a handful of hazelnuts and a bunch of grated parmesan or other hard cheese, and stir in.

Grease a loaf pan, ring tin, or casserole dish. Add the mixture. Cook at 400 F (200C/gas 6) til it looks done. Serve garnished with whole pumpkin seeds (or not).

Next time, I will:
– definitely leave out the flax egg
– use way more bouillon in the barley, and maybe some aromatics like garlic or bay leaf, to kill that flat “whole grain” taste
– maybe try some kind of ultra-concentrated flavor, like a stock boiled down with tons of aromatics

Tagged “nope” because I don’t see myself making this again unless I figure out a way to get some more flavor in there. It’s just…. I’ll put it this way: if you love a great whole-grain flavor, and raisin bran tastes exciting to you, this is the recipe for you! Just kidding – this is a great recipe for barley lovers who like a humble, simple, unpretentious nut loaf. For me, though, it’s a nope.

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recipe by Sarah Cook (an appropriate name) for easy cook magazine and bbc food, and adapted by friedsig

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