Black barley is variety of barley, also known as purple hull-less barley, pure black barley or Ethiopian black barley. This unique grain resembles a coffee bean in its round shape and dark color. Unlike most grains that must be processed to remove the inedible outer hull, black barley has no inedible hull and can thus go from field to table with minimal processing. Originally from Ethiopia, black barley is relatively new to the US market. It maintains its handsome dark sheen when cooked and has a pleasantly chewy texture that holds up well to re-heating.
It is wonderful in soups and stuffings or alone as a wholesome alternative to rice. It is also good combined with softer grains, such as rice and regular barley. For more flavor, cook the barley in broth in place of water. You may also soak the barley overnight in cool water before cooking to decrease cooking time (drain and rinse before cooking). Cooked barley may be re-heated by sautéing with any of your favorite herbs, spices and vegetables. Like all barley, black barley does contain gluten.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
Rinse in cool water. Drain. Bring water (or broth if using) to a boil in a heavy pan. Add salt if desired. Add the barley, cover tightly, return to boil, reduce heat and simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender. Drain excess liquid if necessary.