Back in Milan after a quarter of a year and it seems like nothing has changed around here. I haven’t noticed a single new signboard on my way home from the airport. The construction works seem to not have moved towards completion since June. Just like during the past two Octobers, the view is painted in greyscale and it rains, rains, rains. So I try to cheer myself up with Brazil-inspired music and bowls of colorful, sweet food. At least I get to spend some quality time with my favourite sweatpants, now that we have finally reunited.
Barley with Pumpkin and Carrot, Sage and Candied Hazelnuts
1/4 cup barley
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large handful sage leaves
1 small carrot
2 slices roasted pumpkin* (go for the starchy kind)
1 handful hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
a little coconut oil
1/4 cup orange juice
note: to roast pumpkin, cut it open, clean from seeds, them chop into 2 cm slices, place in a baking tray, cover with foil, place in an oven preheated to 180*C and leave there for 20-30 mins, then remove the foil and another 10 minutes to brown. Note, however, that cooking time will depend on the variety of pumpkin used.
Fill a pot with 2 cups of water and bring to the boil. Add some salt, then the barley, and cook for 15 minutes (set a timer).
While the barley cooks, make thin strips out of the carrot with your peeler (or just chop into thin, 2mm „coins”). Cube the pumpkin, discard the skins. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottom pan, heat up the oil. Once hot, add the sage and fry until fragrant and crisp, about 1 minute. Quickly remove from the oil using kitchen tongs, place on a small plate, they will be used later.
Immediately add the carrot strips to the sage-y oil, swirl around and add a tablespoon of the water that the barley is cooking in. Remove from the pan.
Add a bit of coconut oil, another tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of sugar to the pan. Combine by swirling the pan, let cook until foamy and thick, caramely-almost. Add the hazelnuts, stir to cover evenly, then remove from the pan and place on a piece of baking paper.
Still using the same pan, add the orange juice and mix for all the burnt bits to dissolve. Crush the fried sage leaves and stir into the dressing. Add the pumpkin and cook for 2 minutes, to heat through.
At this point, the barley should be cooked. Drain it, then add to the pumpkin. Next, add the carrot and roughly chopped hazelnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.