Barley is a short-season, early-maturing cereal grain that can be grown in both irrigated and dry lands. If I had more garden space, I would grow it. It can be used in soups, salads, side dishes, or as your breakfast cereal.
In addition to FIBER, barley is also a great source if niacin, which is a B-vitamin. Niacin can reduce platelet aggregation and can also help to reduce cholesterol levels.
This recipe utilizes this wonderful grain in place of the rice used in a traditional Italian risotto.
Barley Fennel Risotto with Crimini Mushroom Saute
4 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup pearl barley
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb crimini mushrooms, washed, stemmed and sliced thick
1 clove garlic, pressed and finely minced
1 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely minced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat vegetable broth to a boil, then set aside.
In a large nonstick flat sided skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender. Add fennel seeds, pepper and thyme and heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add pearled barley and 2 cups warm broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir frequently and simmer until most of the stock is absorbed, 4-5 minuets. Add remaining warm stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally, waiting until stock is absorbed before adding more.
While barley cooks, heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Add minced garlic and saute until fragrant. Add mushrooms and saute until lightly browned. Sprinkle in parsley and salt, cover and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender.
When barley is fully cooked, stir in Parmesan cheese. Spoon barley into bowls, then top with mushrooms.
Nutrition Info per 1 cup barley and 1/4 cup mushrooms: 304 calories, 6 g fat, 13 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 10 g fiber