Brother Hubbard’s Coconut Porridge With Mint & Lime

Would FRESH TASTES FROM BROTHER HUBBARD in your own kitchen rise you from your bed on these dark mornings? This fruit salad with pearl barley and COCONUT PORRIDGE is refreshing rather than stodgy, and would certainly SET YOU UP FOR THE DAY …

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I’ve included this not just because it’s delicious and easy, but as part of my determined plan to get people eating pearl barley once more! This ‘porridge’ will work equally well as a healthy breakfast, a starter course to a brunch or as a tasty pudding course. It’s incredibly satisfying and refreshing but also substantial, so it will set you up for the day (just note that it’s eaten cold as opposed to hot).

The porridge itself will hold happily in the fridge for 3–4 days, so you can keep returning to it for breakfast over a few mornings – just be sure to taste it each time and adjust the lime, coconut milk and honey, as the flavours might evolve somewhat. A little grated fresh ginger, added to taste, would be another worthwhile addition here.

Serves 6–8

300g pearl barley
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
Juice of 2–3 limes
2–4 tbsp runny honey
75g red quinoa (or sunflower seeds or roughly chopped nuts)
30g coconut flakes
2–3 oranges
3 apples or pears (or a mix)
50g fresh mint
1 small punnet of fresh blueberries

1. This first step should be done well ahead of time. Cook the pearl barley by covering it with two and a half times its volume of water and bringing to a gentle simmer in a pan set over a medium heat. Cook for approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pearl barley is nice and tender while still retaining a bouncy texture (just beyond al dente). Once cooked, strain and rinse under cold water, shaking really well to remove any excess water. Place in a bowl and add about three-quarters of the coconut milk (keeping the rest in a bowl in the fridge), the juice of 1 lime and 2 tablespoons of runny honey. Stir well, cover and put in the fridge for 2–3 hours, or even better, overnight.

2. Toast the quinoa by placing a clean, dry frying pan over a medium heat until it’s good and hot. Throw the quinoa into the pan and shake it over the heat for 1–2 minutes, until it’s toasted (do the same if using nuts or seeds instead). Tip into a bowl immediately afterwards so that it doesn’t toast too much.Using the same pan, gently toast the coconut flakes for 2–3 minutes, until they turn a light golden colour, then remove from the pan.

3. Peel the oranges, removing as much of the pith as possible, and cut into 1cm-thick slices. Core the apples or pears and cut into bite-sized wedges. In a large bowl, toss the oranges, apples and pears in 2 tablespoons of honey and the juice of half a lime.

4. Take the pearl barley porridge out of the fridge and taste it, adding more coconut milk, lime juice or honey if needed. The aim is that you end up with something akin to a rice pudding – a nice saucy porridge with a hit of coconut, honey and lime together with that soothing texture.

5. To serve, place some orange slices and apple or pear wedges on individual plates or bowls, tearing the fresh mint leaves over each layer. Place a big spoonful of the pearl barley porridge on top of each portion, then top with a good sprinkling of the fresh blueberries (no one will blame you for being generous!), some more mint and a good sprinkle of the toasted red quinoa (or nuts or seeds, or all of these!) and the toasted coconut flakes. Finish with a final drizzle of honey and any juice from the apple/pear marinade.

This recipe is from The Brother Hubbard Cookbook, out now, €27.99, Gill Books.

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