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Cacio e Pepe Toasted Barley with Charred Fillet and Peppery Dark Greens Pesto
serves 2

Barley Cacio e Pepe with Charred Steak and Dark Greens PestoINGREDIENTS

  • 2/3 cup barley, rinsed
  • Sea salt
  • 12 ounces beef tenderloin
  • 1 packed cup mixed bitter greens, such as watercress, spinach, and arugula
  • 1/2 clove to 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 teaspoons, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Freshly ground black pepper, plus 2 teaspoons


I like to make the barley ahead of time, although that isn’t necessary.  The night before, I put the barley and a good pinch of salt in a stockpot and cover with two to three inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.  Drain, rinse under cold water, put into a plastic bag or bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When you are ready to eat, take the beef and barley out of the refrigerator, and let them rest on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes.  Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat.

While the meat is resting, make the pesto.  Place the greens, garlic, walnuts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of Pecorino Romano, along with salt and a good amount of pepper, in the food processor and whiz until smooth.  Set aside.

Salt and pepper all sides of the beef generously, and rub with 1 teaspoon of olive oil—this will help ensure the meat doesn’t still to the grill pan.  Char on the hot grill pan, turning four times so that all sides are charred, until desired doneness is reached.  For medium, cook 5 to 6 minutes on each of the four sides, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 135 to 140 degrees F.  Set the meat aside on a board to rest.

While the meat is resting, make the cacio e pepe barley.  Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a wide nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the barley and 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, to toast.  Make sure to spread the barley out in the pan.  Stir intermittently for about 7 minutes.  Turn off the heat and scatter 2 tablespoons of Pecorino over the top.  Stir into the barley, allowing the residual heat to melt it.

To serve, divide the barley into two shallow bowls.  After the meat has rested for 10 minutes, cut into 1/2-inch slices, or thicker medallions—however you prefer.  Place on top of the barley.  Spoon one or two spoonfuls of the pesto over the meat, and top with some extra freshly cracked black pepper and / or torn arugula or watercress leaves for garnish.  Eat up!


A great resource for the greens is actually the bagged salad aisle.  At my supermarket, they offer a bagged watercress, baby spinach, and baby arugula salad blend.  I just buy that and use it for my pesto.  The extra, I use for salad the next day, or I wilt it into wholegrain pasta.

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