Shopping the local "big box" discount store this past weekend I found a box of quick cooking barely tucked among the rice. I was searching for Arborio rice to make risotto, but alas the mega mart didn't have any. The barley piqued my curiosity. It promised to be quick cooking without sacrificing taste, fiber or nutrition. Sounded good to me, so I paid my $1.75 for a box (it looks like I will get 8-10 meals out of it, which brings the cost per meal to 17 - 18 cents if I did my math right.)
I searched for barley recipes online. My goal was to incorporate this week's bounty of herbs from the garden into a rich, satisfying vegetarian dish. Have you ever noticed that most of the recipes out there call for exotic ingredients? I'm talking about recipes that read like "Add a dash of imported black truffle oil and a pinch of caviar to the sauce" stuff. My shopping is done at mega mart and the average small town grocery store. You make do with what you find.
The best recipe took over an hour and used weird stuff, so I invented my own. It took me 15 minutes to make this Garlic Mushroom Barley Risotto for lunch. It also made four servings, so I have more for tomorrow.
Here's how to make it.
Ingredients: 1 cup quick cooking barley 2 cups water 1 vegetable bouillan cube (substitute beef if you don't mind the meat) 1 clove of garlic, minced dash of olive oil 1 can of mushroom stems and pieces fresh or dried parsley, to taste fresh or dried thyme, to taste pepper, to taste
Boil water and cook the barley as per package directions. While barley cooks, drain and rinse the mushrooms and sautee the garlic for 30 seconds. When everything is cooked, mix the mushrooms into the barley along with the garlic and herbs. Serve with a dash of pepper or a sprinkle of Romano or Parmesan cheese.
And for the record, here's how barley stacks up nutrition-wise. Barley is thought to lower cholesterol levels and improve digestive function.
So use those fresh herbs from the garden and get some healthy plant nutrition today!