Posts Tagged 'barley'

Pesto Barley Salad

This was the first weekend in months that did not include a run. I hoped this day wouldn’t come, but I think my running days are over for this pregnancy. The last few runs I went on were really uncomfortable, and my back ended up absolutely killing me.

I can’t believe I ran a marathon 5 weeks ago and now I’m not running anymore, but I think it’s important to listen to my body, and right now my body is saying walks and yoga YES, running NO. And it absolutely makes me feel lazy and a little like I failed because SO MANY OTHER WOMEN run up until hours before giving birth, but I’m just not willing to put myself through the discomfort. So running shoes, I guess we’ll get back together in September. Tear.

Fortunately there were a lot of other good things happening this weekend. Dinner with friends…

Burma Superstar once again!

We finally made it to our local farmers market for the first time. I can’t believe we’ve lived here 10 months and it took us this long!
We did not hold back; Lettuce, potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and local grass-fed lamb for Mike

All this produce makes healthy eating so easy, which is good, because with the ridiculous appetite I’ve had lately, I need to make sure I’m sticking to the good stuff. This salad has so much going for it – walnut pesto, sundried tomatoes, pupmkin seeds for crunch, chewy scotch barley, and little ribbons of kale. It’s one of those things you can relish every bite of knowing that each ingredient is contributing great nutrition as well as great flavor. Win win!

(adapted from Color Me Vegan)

1 1/2 cups scotch Barley (or substitute pearl barley)
4 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 16 oz block extra firm nigari tofu, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 small bunch kale, thinly sliced into ribbons and cut into 1-2″ lengths
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not packed in oil)

1 1/2 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil
1/4 cup raw walnuts
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

To cook the barley, bring the water to a boil, then add the barley and cook for about 45 minutes, covered, until tender (shorter if using pearl barley – test after about 30 minutes). It should be slightly chewy but not firm.

Drain and set aside.

To make the pesto, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well mixed. Taste and add salt and lemon juice if needed.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wide skillet over medium high. Add the tofu cubes and cook, flipping occasionally, until golden on all sides. Transfer to a large bowl.

Heat the other tbsp of oil in the skillet and add the kale. Cook, stirring often, until slightly wilted and tender. Add to the bowl with the tofu, then toss with the remaining ingredients (barley, sundried tomatoes, pesto, and pumpkin seeds). Taste and adjust salt if necessary.

Barley and Asparagus Salad

I am spoiled. So spoiled. I pay a high price to live where I do, but with the ocean a few minutes away, a city full of amazing food, and fresh local produce pretty much year-round, I feel pretty lucky to call California home. At least, until a big earthquake hits.

If you ever find yourself in Berkeley like I did the other day, please do yourself a favor and visit Berkeley Bowl. The produce section is indescribably amazing. Not only do they have about 20 different kinds of apples and 10 kinds of potatoes, they have signs telling you where each and every item was grown. Except for the shallots and a red onion (which I got at Trader Joe’s a while ago), all the produce in this salad is from California. There were huge piles of local asparagus, ripe avocados, and beautiful oranges. Mike’s only request for dinner was lots of vegetables, so I decided a salad — with barley to make it more filling — would be perfect.

Since I’m not working this week, it was the perfect opportunity to go meet Mike for lunch in the city.

We went to the Ferry Building, which has a huge variety of lunch options. We ended up at Delica.

I got 3 salads: wasabi potato salad (awesome), burdock salad (also tasty), and the hijiki and soybean salad (which is really similar to something I’ve made before).

My only complaint is that the serving sizes were TINY, but that was okay because it meant I had room for dessert!

Cookies and cream gelato… I need more of you in my life.

I love this weather and this view!


1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp orange zest
pinch sugar, salt, and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup pot barley (slightly less processed than pearl barley, which you can sub if that’s what you have)
2 cups water
3 ounces mixed salad greens
12 spears asparagus, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

Bring the water to a boil and add the barley. Turn down to low and simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Let cool.

Blanch the asparagus: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 30 seconds, then drain and submerge into cold water to stop the pieces from cooking. Drain well and set aside.

Put the greens and barley in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss, then add the asparagus, avocado, walnuts, and onion. Mix to combine, then serve.

Spinach and Barley Salad

Spinach has pretty much always been a staple in my refrigerator, but ever since I started blending it into my morning smoothie, I’ve been going through about 5 large bunches a week. I am usually so careful about making sure I have some left for breakfast that I kind of stopped cooking dinner with it.

But then on a run I started thinking about spinach, and barley, and red onions, and cilantro (which we now have growing in pots in our kitchen), and I immediately came home and put together this salad. It’s full of good stuff – healthy fats from avocado and walnuts, and a nice summery flavor from the lemon cilantro dressing. This makes a LOT, and the leftovers are great for lunch. I might have to start picking up a few extra bunches of spinach at the farmers market every week, because I think salads like this one are going to be in heavy rotation all summer!

4 cups water
1 1/2 cups pearled barley

1 medium zucchini, diced
4 cups (or more) spinach leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper

Bring the water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer until tender, 30-40 minutes, then drain the excess water. Let cool.

Combine the diced zucchini, spinach, walnuts, avocado, red onion, and green onion in a large bowl. Add the barley and mix well.

To make the dressing, mash the garlic and salt with a mortar and pestle to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a blender and add the lemon juice, cilantro, olive oil, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, then add as much as desired to the salad, tossing to mix.

Eggplant and Cashew Barley

Last night I came to the slightly painful realization that my photos have gotten incredibly boring. Food + white dish + white background over and over. And over. So today I went to the craft store (where I feel completely out of place because I’m not crafty in the slightest) and picked up some paper and fabric so I can spice up my pictures. My wonderful husband also moved the light box from the garage/basement up to a room at the front of the house that gets great light at dinner time, so I’m hoping this will improve my photo quality at least a little. I’m just going to let the picture above be one of the last of my “white phase.”

This dinner is incredibly flavorful, with an unusual combination of ingredients that work together surprisingly well: cardamom, cinnamon, mustard seeds, eggplant, roasted red pepper, cashews, and a little lemon. It sounds like a really weird mix, but trust me, it’s comforting and just exotic enough to get you out of the rut using the same flavors over and over (which you might not do, but I kind of end up relying on garlic, soy sauce and little else a lot of the time). Although the recipe calls for rice (and I have no doubt rice is great in it), I’m keeping my pearl barley kick going.

(adapted from Fresh Indian by Sunil Vijayakar)

1 1/3 cups pearl barley, soaked in warm water for 30-40 minutes, then drained
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 whole dried red chiles (like Chiles de Arbol)
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1 medium eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 lemon
1 red bell pepper, roasted and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cashew pieces
chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the shallots, mustard seeds, chiles, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaf and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the eggplant and turmeric, mix to combine, then add the water. Stir in a few pinches of salt, then turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water has absorbed and the barley is tender (if it’s not soft, add a little water and continue cooking).

Turn off the heat and let stand for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle with lemon juice, pepper, cashews, and cilantro.

Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Risotto

Although a reader recently pointed out that pearl barley is not a whole grain (I’m glad I know that now, but it was definitely a disappointment), it’s still healthier than Arborio rice, and is now my go-to for risottos.

We’re well into Brussels sprout season here, which might be a bummer for some people, but it’s my favorite time of the year! We bought a big basket at the farmers market and ate them simply roasted and sprinkled with salt for about four nights in a row, until I realized that there were other great things to do with Brussels sprouts. Like make this risotto!

If you’re a purist, you can obviously use Arborio rice instead of barley. If you do, you can probably skip the sour cream at the end, but I like adding it for the little extra creaminess that barley doesn’t provide. The combination of brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese perfectly satisfies my cold-weather craving for comfort food with the bright green promise of spring coming soon (but who am I kidding…there were a lot of days in January and February that felt like spring). If there’s anything that would serve perfectly as a signature dish for the month of March, it would be this.

(adapted from Daily Unadventures in Cooking )

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
about 20 medium brussels srpouts, halved
2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 cup pearl barley
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add the brussels sprouts to the skillet with a big pinch of salt and stir a few times. Cook the brussels sprouts until nicely browned, about 15 minutes, flipping them about every 5 minutes (turn the heat down if they start to get too dark).
Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium low heat .
Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another two minutes, then add the barley and cook for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the white wine and bring to a simmer. Once most of the wine has evaporated, add the broth, one cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed before adding more. The risotto is finished once the barley is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese and sour cream.

Barley Risotto with Spinach and Walnuts

Over the last two months, I’ve gone from thinking barley was just in weird soups at mediocre restaurants to being more than a little obsessed with it. I recently had a craving for risotto, and when I saw that Heidi Swanson had made some with barley in Super Natural Cooking, I was immediately inspired.

I made a few changes to the recipe in the book because using both orange and lemon seemed like it would be citrus overkill for me. I also used spinach instead of arugula because I just like spinach a whole lot more. This doesn’t get as creamy as risotto made with arborio rice, but it’s much healthier and Mike called it one of the best things I’ve made lately (which is probably because my attempt at vegan macaroni and cheese last night was a GIGANTIC flop). So, you want risotto but you’re trying to eat more whole grains? Here you go!

(inspired by Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few pinches of salt
2 cups pearled barley
1 cup white wine
5 cups vegetable broth
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes.
Add the barley and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer in a separate pan.
Stir in the wine and keep at a simmer. Stir in the broth, one cup at a time, waiting until most of the liquid is absorbed between additions. You may not need to add all the broth, but you’ll know when you’ve added enough because the barley will be tender and most of the liquid will be absorbed.
Stir in the lemon zest and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted.
Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and sour cream. Taste and add salt if needed, then serve, sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

Kale and Barley Gratin

I generally think there are two kinds of people in the world: those who embrace vegetables in their natural form, and those who are less fond and prefer them hidden so they don’t realize what they’re eating. This amazing gratin is a perfectly happy medium that will suit both types of people. It starts with an entire bunch of kale, and the finished product is so in-your-face green there’s no getting around the fact that it’s full of good-for-you vegetable. But it also has a nice nutmeg and allspice-enhanced cream sauce and bubbly brown cheese on top, so it’s not exactly rabbit food.

I was bracing myself for complete failure when this went into the oven. It seemed like a soupy mess and I didn’t see how it would get to the right consistency. But it did! It thickened up beautifully and my husband even said “I guess I like kale” – so I must have done something right.

In the original recipe, the cream sauce starts with a roux, but I opted to boil some whole milk with corn starch instead, and it worked nicely.

(adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison)

2/3 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper
1 large bunch kale, washed and stems removed
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup grated provolone

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the barley. Simmer, covered, until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and let stand with the lid on.

Put about 1/2″ of water in a skillet and bring it to a boil. Add the kale and cook, stirring, until the kale is tender (about 8 minutes). Transfer the kale and a few tablespoons of cooking liquid to a food processor, and puree.

Bring the milk and corn starch to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, then season with salt and pepper and add the nutmeg and allspice.

Grease a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Stir the cream sauce, kale, and barley together and pour into the dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake until the cheese is bubbly and brown, about 30 minutes.

Barley and Roasted Root Vegetables

If you’re ever hesitant about trying a new vegetable, roast it with tons of butter and it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll fall madly in love. At least, that was my experience with parsnips. I had never tried one until about two years ago, when Mike brought some home from the store, sliced them up, and roasted them with ungodly amounts of butter. Ever since then, I’ve been smitten.

When I saw this recipe, I immediately knew parsnips would play a major part in it, but I was also excited to try turnip and rutabaga for the first time. (The verdict? They’re good, but not as good as parsnips).

Anyway, since winter is prime root vegetable time, this is a perfect dish to make right now. The original recipe called for wheat berries, but I used barley because that’s what I had in the cupboard. I suspect it would be good with whatever whole grain you happen to like. I added some orange zest, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinegar, but there are a whole bunch of other ideas for making this on David Lebovitz’s post.

(adapted from David Lebovitz)

1 1/2 cups pearled barley
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
bay leaf
2 lbs mixed root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga), cut into 1/2″ dice
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
zest from 1/2 an orange
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the salt, bay leaf, and barley. Simmer, partially covered, until the barley is tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until you’re ready to mix up the salad.

Toss the vegetables, onion, olive oil, thyme, a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and spread on a sheet pan. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.

Toss the barley and vegetables together in a large bowl with the balsamic, walnuts, and orange zest. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Barley with White Beans and Broccoli

This was inspired by a recipe in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Super Natural Cooking. I modified it it based on what I had on hand, and the fact that asparagus cost about four times as much as broccoli (and the broccoli didn’t come all the way from Peru!)

I’ve been on a mission to cook with more whole grains lately, so this recipe worked perfectly for that. I’ve also recently discovered how easy it is to cook dried beans in the slow cooker (and you don’t even need to soak them!) so I’ve been cranking through legumes lately. It always makes me so happy to get to the checkout at the store and realize my cart is mostly bulk foods (grains and beans) and vegetables. I’ve definitely cut way back on my white flour consumption without even really trying! Not buying sandwich bread makes it a LOT easier to stay away from white flour. Instead, I just eat leftovers of things like this for lunch, which is not only healthier, but much more satisfying than PB&J on white.

With all this talk of eating more whole grains, I decided it would be helpful to add a whole grains category so all the recipes containing barley, millet, and other grains would be easy to find. So just click on “whole grains” below if you need some more ideas!

2 cups pearl barley
5 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
12 green onions, coarsley chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (drained)
sea salt
1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
thinly sliced green onion, for garnish

Bring the water to a boil in a large sauce pan. Add the barley and a pinch of salt, return to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
While the barley is cooking, saute the green onions in a medium skillet for about 5 minutes, or until soft.
Puree the green onions with an immersion blender or in a mini food processor, then return to the skillet, add the white beans, and heat through. Set aside.
When the barley is tender, stir in the broccoli and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the walnuts, lemon zest, and white beans with green onion sauce. Stir and add sea salt to taste.
There may be a little liquid remaining in the cooking pot. If so, serve with a slotted spoon, then garnish with parmesan and green onion.


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