Real East Coasters are pros at dressing for the winter-to-spring transition. Mr. Alpenglow, a SoCal native, is still figuring it out. This past weekend he was running errands in a puffy down jacket (still too chilly) and shorts (legs…must…sun). Here’s a similarly outfitted dish, styled like a warmth-giving risotto but accessorized for brighter days. With barley instead of rice, it’s actually a specialty of Italy’s northeastern Friuli-Venezia Giulia region called orzotto.


(adapted from a recipe by Amanda Hesser)

1 cup of dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups of veal (or chicken) broth
3 cups of mushroom (or vegetable) broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Vidalia onions, diced
1 cup of pearled barley
1/2 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of grated pecorino
1 cup of snap peas, lightly steamed
1 bunch of pea leaves
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring the veal and mushroom broth to a boil and add the dried porcini mushrooms. Let simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and chop. Strain the broth. Next, heat the olive oil in a cast iron pot and add the garlic and onions. Saute until golden brown. Add the barley and stir periodically for 5 minutes. Add the wine. When it is mostly evaporated, begin adding the broth a cup at a time until it is all absorbed by the barley. Once the barley is tender but still firm, remove from heat. Stir in the mushrooms, pecorino, and season to taste. Dress the snap peas and pea leaves in the lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. To serve, spoon the barley into a bowl and top with the dressed snap peas and pea leaves.



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