Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baked Barley with Mushrooms

i rarely ever make something for a client unless i have already made it myself and tasted it. most dishes get a "test run" if you will. the exception to this rule comes for my regular client who follows a strict diet out of a book. basically, she gave me a diet book and i simply follow it to a "T". the book lays out all breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. i just prepare everything and use the recipes provided.

this diet is very basic (i.e. lots of fish, vegetables, and very few carbs - only oatmeal and barley really) so the recipes are very basic and easy too. imagine my surprise when i made took the lid off the baked barley recipe and the most wonderful aroma filled my nose. i simply had to have a bite of it. i was even more surprised when not only was it complex and tasty, but i loved it.
i adapted the recipe and made it for myself later that week. the changes i made resulted in an even more delicious dish. the mushrooms lend an almost meaty flavor and the onions and garlic nearly melt into the barley making it taste almost decadent. the best way to describe it is barley risotto - that's how rich it tastes. yet it is surprisingly good for you.

according to wikipedia, "barley contains eight essential amino acids. According to a recent study, eating whole grain barley can regulate blood sugar (i.e. reduce blood glucose response to a meal) for up to 10 hours after consumption compared to white or even whole-grain wheat, which has a similar glycemic index."
i served my baked barley as a side dish to balsamic glazed salmon with fresh, juicy corn on the cob. prefection! this baked barley dish would also be a prefect fall meal but if you added some chicken or ground turkey, it could also be a great one pot summer meal. you know what that means - less dishes!

Baked Barley with Mushrooms
(makes 6-8 sides dishes)
adapted from the whole food bible

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, minced
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup barley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tbs low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups vegetable stock

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

in large oven safe pot with lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. add shallots, onion, garlic, and cabbage. saute until tender and just starting to brown. add mushrooms and continue to cook until tender and liquid has cooked off. add pepper, barley, thyme, and rosemary. saute for 1 minute. add wine and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour. remove from oven and stir. keep covered for 15-30 minutes until ready to serve.

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