The snow has receded, the sun has come out, and the temperatures are headed up (this week, insanely so). These few weeks in the very earliest part of New England’s spring are the time to forget any lingering bitterness about a dreary winter and tap into a natural source of sweetness.
The sunny sides of sugar maples yield a sap that when boiled down (in something like a 40-to-1 ratio) creates a fantastic amber treat: maple syrup. The process is explained nicely by the Boston Globe.
To celebrate this seasonal bounty, we Recipe ReDuxers are “Sticking with Maple Syrup Sweetness” for our March theme. There are myriad ways to add this natural sweetness to meals, and I already had a simple breakfast recipe that mimics the flavors of French toast using maple syrup, cooked barley and a hard-boiled egg. But I decided to add in a few more healthy ingredients – banana and walnut – to really bring it up to Recipe ReDux standards. The result: banana walnut “French toast” barley:
The beauty of this recipe is that it’s a cinch to throw together in the morning; but does require some prep the day before. I make the barley and eggs, store them in the fridge and have 2-4 days’ worth of breakfast on hand (depending on whether Mr. Eating The Week has some).
Banana walnut French toast barley (text file here)
To cook the barley, bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add 1 cup of barley. Bring back to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. This will make four ¾-cup servings of cooked barley; store them in the fridge.
To cook the hard-boiled eggs, put 4 eggs out on the counter for 15 minutes to de-chill a little. Put them in a sauce pan and pour in just enough water to cover them all. Put the pan on high heat and bring to a boil. Let the eggs boil briefly (about 1 minute), then remove the pan from heat and let the eggs sit for 12 minutes. Drain the hot water and cover the eggs with cool water. Let them sit about 5 minutes, drain, store in the fridge.
(1 serving, approx. 410 calories)
¾ cup barley, cooked
1 hardboiled egg, sliced
1 Tbs maple syrup
½ banana, sliced
1/8 cup walnut pieces
Top the barley with the egg slices, maple syrup, banana slices and walnuts. Microwave on high for ½-1 minute, depending on the strength of your microwave, and enjoy. If the browning of the banana after heating will make it unappealing for you, just set that aside and toss on top after microwaving everything else.
While you’re making this recipe, you certainly could be tempted to just drink that sticky sweetness all by itself.
But I’d suggest you enjoy maple syrup together with some nutritious foods, like those featured in this month’s recipes from the foodie dietitians of the Recipe Redux: