Well, I bought some Quaker Quick Barley at the store, and I had to cook it on my stove. (Because whole grains take some time to absorb water, and barley really takes its time even in “quick” form.) So you know how it is — you start to feel like you want something else cooking in there. So I dumped in a can of collard greens, because dang it, it’s winter and I want collard greens.
But the combination of collard greens and barley is not… exciting. Barley is kind of dark-tasting, and so are canned collards, and it really needed some other taste to brighten it up. I tried lemon juice, but that didn’t do it, and there were already onions in the canned collards. So while things simmered, I got on the internet to get some suggestions.
I found this Korean-American lady who has a couple of concoctions, on her cooking video site, for cooking raw collards in the style of a nice replacement for Korean cabbage. One of them puts in dried anchovies for flavor.
Yes, I’m the kind of person who hears that and thinks, “Hey, I bet you could cook collard greens with sardines for flavor!”
It’s pretty good, really. Sardines aren’t bright-tasting, exactly, but they’re salty and so they do make a nice contrast with the greens (and don’t fight the barley). It’s sort of like a fishy ham hock. So I think this was a successful concoction, albeit I’m probably the only person in the world who’ll want to eat it. (I suspect the black and Southern ladies in my office would bring torches to burn the heretic….)
UPDATE: When I made this dish, obviously there was plenty left over for the next few days (which I anticipated). Each day, the barley has swelled up further, absorbing more and more of the water from the collard greens (aka “pot likker”) and more of the flavor. Today, three days after, the whole thing is scrumptious when reheated in small portions, the barley has really become an asset to the dish, and the fish come in very handy for a Friday meal. Yum.