This barley porridge is all about simplicity of ingredients, bought together to create a warming and decadent start to the day. It’s one of those dishes that will taste at its finest when the best of quality ingredients are used. I think of it as an Italian inspired way of cooking – minimal ingredients, yet maximum flavour.
Barley is a grain that doesn’t get much attention these days, with quinoa and buckwheat generally stealing the limelight. Barley is naturally wheat free, though do note that it contains gluten for those who are gluten intolerant. I find barley gives a delightful coarseness similar to oats, however it seems to have more of a naturally nutty flavour, and is deliciously chewy when cooked.
When making stewed fruit, using the fruits of the season will always yield the most flavour. Here I’ve been lucky enough to use the quinces picked from my mum and dad’s property in country Victoria. If you do not have access to quinces, I would suggest using apples or pears and/or rhubarb, which are so lovely right now.
Again, when it comes to the almond milk you could use bought almond milk for convenience, yet I can tell you without a doubt that the fresh almond milk brings a ridiculous amount of creaminess to the final product. Then there is the salt. Please do not skip the salt!
The added honey pecans add a delightful crunch to the final product creating a great textural element that breaks up the warm creaminess of the porridge. You could use any nuts that you like here of course, hazelnuts would be wonderful as would walnuts or macadamia nuts.
I hope you enjoy this barley porridge with almond milk, stewed quinces and honey pecans as much as I do. It really is magnificent right now on these cooler mornings. Ensure you nestle down in a soft and comfortable spot and let it’s warmness and creamy goodness envelop you.
For pre prepared stewed quinces or stewed fruit of choice, you can use this recipe here, and adapt it to suit seasonal fruit. For my mum's quinces she simple just stewed down fresh quinces on a very low heat (no sugar added) till soft and juicy.
Place the barley flakes in a saucepan with the 1/3 cup of water on a low heat and allow to slowly heat up. While this is warming, place the almonds in a blender with the remaining water and blend till well combined to create 'almond milk'.
Pour the almond milk into the barley flakes and water mix on the stove. Add the vanilla extract and the salt and mix well. Leave the porridge on a low heat and stir every minute to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Depending on your mix, you may need to add a little more water to loosen the porridge, but just play this by ear as it cooks.
While the porridge is slowly heating, get your honey pecans on. Heat a small fry pan to medium heat and pop in your chopped pecans. Allow to toast for 1 - 2 minutes and then and in the honey, stirring through the nuts. Once the nuts are nicely coated and quite sticky, turn the heat off and set the honey pecans aside.
Just before serving heat up your stewed quinces (or other stewed fruit of choice). I often do this by popping them in the fry pan that contained the nuts so I'm not wasting time or dishes!
To serve, pour the porridge into a bowl and top with the warmed stewed quinces and honey pecans.