Monday, September 17, 2012

A New Favorite Autumn Side Dish

This past weekend, we were invited to a backyard pig roast and when asked to bring a side dish, I wanted to make sure it was something that played well with the pork, but also helped welcome the impending fall weather.  I knew I wanted to use a nutty grain as a base but initially debated between pearled barley, faro and red quinoa until it hit me - create a pilaf of all there!  By combining the heartiness of the barley, the toastiness of the faro and the subtle bite of the quinoa, I was able to concoct a base for my dish that wasn't only delicious, but provided some great visual contrast as well.  I followed the general cooking instructions for each of the grains, however in lieu of water (which adds absolutely nothing to a dish), I boiled them in half apple cider, half vegetable stock (chicken stock would also work well, but I wanted the dish to be vegetarian friendly) with a bit of salt and pepper.  After each grain completed cooking, I rinsed them in a sieve to remove the starchy outer layer and cool the grain as to stop the cooking process before reaching that undesirable mushy stage. 

I added 2 cup of chopped baked apples, 1 cup of dried bing cherries (you could also use cranberries or raisins) and one cup of toasted mixed nuts (pistachios, walnuts, pinenuts, almonds and pecans).  As a dressing, mix 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 2 tablespoons of diced shallots,  2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of ground clove, 1 teaspoon mustard powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.  Garnish with some freshly chopped parsley and you've got a great pilaf that can be served warm or cold and pairs incredibly with a roasted pork loin.  

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