When I was young, my mom would make my sisters and me desserts all the time. It was our motivation for eating dinner. On really special night, or probably when we were having fish or peas, she would make a parfait-style dessert, and we would all eat as fast as we could to get our spoons in the creamy delicious mixture.
Parfait, a French word that means perfect, is traditionally a frozen, layered dessert. Like so many foods, parfaits have become Americanized and now you see them layered with goodies like yogurt, ice cream, granola and nuts. This Colorful Cooking parfait includes barley, strawberries and a ricotta-and-apricot mixture that creates a beautiful look as well as a healthy treat.
Barley is a whole grain that is low in sodium, has a low-glycemic count and is high in fiber and selenium. This ancient grain promotes healthy digestion and may prevent colon cancer. Hulled barley is said to fight breast cancer thanks to lignans, which are phytochemicals that act as antioxidants.
Barley has a tough, inedible hull and the hull must be removed before eating. During this process, some of the bran is rubbed off. Barley’s high fiber content allows it to be considered a highly healthy grain at any processing rate since fiber is found throughout the kernel. Typically you will see pearl and semi-pearled barley at the grocery stores. Pearl barley means some bran is rubbed off during processing and semi-pearled barley means some bran remains intact. Again, both are very good for you.
A good way to get whole grains into your diet is to cook more than you need and store them in the refrigerator for easy access. This reserve lasts about five days and can be used for a warm breakfast cereal with cinnamon and sugar, mixed into a salad to give it some body or added to a soup to ramp up the nutritional value of your meal.
Barley is the base layer of this parfait and the juice from the apricots and strawberries melt into the layers making it appear to be much more calorie laden than it is.
When we were kids, my mom had the perfect parfait glasses, which are tall and thin with a small stem. Using clear plastic, stem-less wine glasses makes this treat easy to bring to an outdoor concert and less nerve wracking if you have the kids assemble their own, which is a tried and true fun thing for them to do.
Tracy Miller is TV8’s in-house cook, shares recipes Saturdays on “Good Morning Vail,” teaches cooking classes at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards and hosts private cooking parties. Contact Miller at email@example.com.