Ancient Breakfast Varvara

I was drawn to this recipe after watching My Greek Odyssey It didn’t sound like something that would work and then I saw Peter Maneas, the presenter demolish a bowl of this with gusto! This dish has its roots in ancient Greece and was a breakfast dish (they certainly knew how to eat well in ancient times), some Greek islands serve it as a dessert also. Named after St. Barbara (Varvara) this dish is traditionally prepared the night before the saints day along with a prayer for the health of children. Although it takes a little bit of prep I have found a quick way to cook it and you WILL thank me for this recipe – a big batch made on the weekend will last you a few days. Please use organic barley, not pearl barley. I now make this every week and my husband calls it ‘miracle food’ as it aids digestion, fills you up (for hours) and is very healthy!

500gr x Organic barley (washed 5 times and soaked in cold water overnight)
1 1/2 x cups of organic mixed beans (such as kidney beans, black beans, lentils etc.) Trust me! (soaked in cold water overnight)
1 x cup golden raisins or sultanas
1 x cup of cranberries
1/2 x cup of chopped apricots
1/2 x cup of toasted sesame seeds
1/2 x cup of toasted almonds or chopped mixed nuts
1/2 – 1 x cup of honey
2 x tbsp pf cinnamon
1/2 – 1 x cup of tahini paste
1.5 litres of water
For the topping:
Pomegranate seeds
or anything else you fancy!

Night Before: wash the barley 5 times so the water is clean and then soak in a large bowl in cold water overnight. (This softens the barley).
Also, soak the mixed beans in cold water overnight – make sure you put them in a large bowl and cover with about 2 inches of cold water as they will expand.
Next day:
Drain the mixed beans and put them in a large saucepan with 1.5 litres of water, boil gently until they are just becoming tender. Now add in the drained barley and continue to simmer until both the beans and barley are soft. (About 20-30 minutes more). Turn off the hob and leave for a few minutes with the lid on.
While the beans and barley are cooking, toast the sesame seeds either in the oven or in a non-stick pan (do not walk away and leave them as you don’t want them to burn!) When they start to turn brown, remove them from the heat.
Now, take the lid off the barley and add in the toasted sesame seeds, the chopped mixed nuts, tahini, honey, sultanas, apricots, cranberries and cinnamon.
Give everything a good stir and just heat gently for a few minutes to warm it up. Adjust the levels of sweetness and cinnamon to taste.
Serve warm (or cold) in a nice dish and sprinkle with chopped walnuts, a little cinnamon and pomegranate seeds – enjoy!

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