Barley is a whole grain that has a great ‘al dente’ chewy texture and a bit of a nutty flavor. It is considered to be a cereal grain, but I like to serve it as a hearty side or in soups or stews. In fact, I think I was first introduced to barley by Campbell’s in their Vegetable Beef Soup. Although it is both delicious and nutritious, you just don’t see it served very often. I was looking for something different to dish up as a substitute for rice. This recipe fit the bill nicely – it moves along quite quickly and yields a beautiful, tasty offering. You can prepare the barley in advance and really cut down the prep time. I chose to simmer my barley in chicken stock to add another flavor element to my dish. Red onion is added to a hot pan and sautéed for a few minutes before garlic, cardamom, spinach, lemon zest and lemon juice are added. As the spinach begins to wilt, the barley is added along with feta cheese, slivered almonds, and golden raisins. Once the mixture is heated through you are ready to serve up a hearty, healthy, beautiful side. Ron doesn’t think that it needs an extra drizzle of lemon juice before serving this dish up. He felt that it overpowered the palate a bit since it already had a good amount of lemon zest and lemon juice added already. We enjoyed this so much that I am going to try looks for other ways to bring barley back to the table.
Note: If you don’t have cardamom in your pantry, try using 1/2 t. cinnamon and 1/2 t. nutmeg as a substitute.
PEARL BARLEY WITH SPINACH AND FETA (Serves 4)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil or canola oil
- 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 4 cups baby spinach, stems removed
- juice of 1 lemon + 1 more to serve
- zest of one lemon
- 2 cups cooked pearl barley
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup almonds, slivered
- ½ cup golden raisins
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish)
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add spinach, cardamom, lemon juice and zest. Cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted, about 30 seconds.
- Add cooked barley, feta, almonds and raisins. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat through if serving warm drizzle with the juice of one lemon and chopped fresh parsley.For a great salad option: store in an air-tight container in fridge and serve cold, drizzled with more fresh lemon juice.
~ from EatInEatOut.com ~