In this post I will provide a recipe, pictures, and… unsolicited advice! That being that you should all cook barley at least once a week and consume it in large quantities. For several reasons:
1. Its just about the healthiest grain out there. It has the lowest glycemic index of any grain including cous cous, rice (even brown), whole grain breads, and of course pasta. Its SO low, in fact, that the only other foods in its category are pretty much beans. This means that it takes a long time to break down the carbohydrates in barley, and hence it causes your blood sugar to rise very little (so you have less conversion to fat.)
2. It has lots of fiber. This means you feel full when you eat it – much more than with pasta or rice. It also is good for your GI tract – it helps to prevent constipation.
3. It has iron, niacin, thiamine, and lots of other healthy tidbits.
4. It has a nice, fluffy texture and goes well with all kinds of delish combinations of sauces, spices, veggies, meats, and more!
I’ve been improvising a lot lately with whatever stuff I happen to have in the kitchen. I’ve even used leftover plain barley for breakfast with a fried egg on top. Yum!
Here’s a recipe I made the other night that was largely inspired by Sara’s brussel sprouts post. It made a great one-dish dinner and was just as delicious left over two days later.
1 cup dry pearled barley
2-3 cups chunks of squash (any kind – I used butternut)
10-15 brussel sprouts cut in halves
1-2 cups mixed mushrooms
2 tbsp date syrup (this is what I found in my parents’ kitchen, but I’m sure maple syrup would work just as well)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Goat cheese – eh, lets say about half one of those small logs from Whole Foods
Pepper to season
1. Turn on the oven to 350. Boil a pot of water, add barley, let simmer ~45 minutes, or until soft.
2. Toss brussel sprouts, squash and green onions in olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until just starting to brown.
3. Sautee mushrooms until soft, ~4 min. Add the syrup and balsamic vinegar to the mushrooms.
4. In a large bowl, mix the barley, roast veggies, and mushrooms. Add goat cheese, either decoratively on top, or mixed in. Season to taste.