The beauty of this barley is the consistencies: the creaminess and the warmth of the manteca and the vegetables cooked in a pan and the crunchy and sweet and sour part of the marinated purple cap.
4 purple cabbage leaves
130 gr white vinegar
130 gr of water
50 gr of moscobado sugar
20 g of salt
Wash and peel the leaves of the purple cabbage. Cut them into chiffonade
and place them in a glass bowl.
Bring the marinating liquids to a boil in a saucepan, together with the sugar and salt. The liquid should never boil violently, but make the so-called petite boule
(that means ball, in French). When both the salt and the sugar are dissolved, remove from the heat and pour them on the cabbage. Leave to marinate until the barley is ready.
Rinse the barley under running cold water.
Wash the black cabbage, separate the green leaves from the stems. With the green leaves make a thin chiffonade
(cut into strips) and with the stems make a mince.
Wash, peel the leek and finely chop it.
Put a pan with high edges on the heat, when hot, add 3 tablespoons of oil and leek.
When the leek starts to caramelize (it becomes brownish, but does not burn), add a pinch of salt (about 5 gr) and add the stems and leaves of the black cabbage. Mix well and cover with a lid. Leave to cook for 10 minutes on low heat.
Separately bring 3/4 liter of water to the boil.
Add the barley to the vegetables, mix well and then 1 glass of hot water. Continue cooking without a lid, putting one glass of water at a time and stirring so that the barley absorbs the liquid little by little. When it is dry, add another glass, until the barley is cooked (it usually takes about half an hour, but this depends on the type of barley you have purchased).
When the barley is cooked, stir in the almond ricotta or other vegan 'cheese'. Here I have used one of the recipes learned during the course of Eleonora Battaggia, if you are interested here
A vegan alternative to whipping a barley is cauliflower (steamed - only the white parts - and then reduced to puree together with extra virgin olive oil with a blender), which is neutral and creamy enough to replace the typical creaminess of the butter.
Drain the marinated cabbage, season it with a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil.
Put the orzotto on the plates and garnish with the cabbage and possibly a quenelle of vegan ricotta or cauliflower.
For an extra touch: sprinkle with Sichuan pepper :)