Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Creamy Barley with Tomato and Greens

When I was 12 years old, I decided to become a vegetarian. I have never really enjyoed eating meat, so I didn't feel like I was missing out. When I went away to college in North Carolina, the vegetarian options were slim to none, so I ate whatever I could find, which included bringing meat back into my diet.
For the past few years, cooking in my own kitchen, I have been an omnivore. Primarily because it's just easier than cooking two separate meals for my husband and I. There are also so many delicious recipes that I wanted to make that just don't translate as well to vegetarianism, and when cooked well, I do enjoy meat. However, in the past year I've read more and more about the benefits of eating mostly or all vegetarian meals, and many of the reasons I became vegetarian in the first place have resurfaced. You might have noticed that many of my recipes have been vegetarian entrees, or meals like this. When I make a heartier vegetable/starch combo dish, I can simply add a different protein to JJ's bowl and to mine. I made JJ a chicken sausage, and I stirred cannelini beans into my dish at the end.
This recipe caught my eye because it looked similar to a risotto, but is made with barley, which I love. It also is packed with nutrients and flavor, but is simple and each ingredient shines through.

Creamy Barley with Tomato and Greens
adapted from Real Simple, February 2010

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup pearled barley
2 cups vegetable stock
1 15 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 8 oz. bag frozen spinach or 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, thawed and drained
1/4 cup feta cheese
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of oregano

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the barley, tomatoes, wine, and stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 18-20 minutes.
Add the spinach, crushed red pepper and oregano.
Stir well, taste and asjust seasonings.
Divide among bowls and sprinkle with the feta.


Sophie @ yumventures said...

I've never been a vegetarian, but I have been trying to incorporate more plant based entrees into our weekly meals. They just make me feel good! I'm loving this dish, especially with the mix in of the beans. They make meals much more filling -- and delicious! I'm sure when the summer rolls around and fresh produce is everywhere more and more of my food will be veggie-based :)

Dawn said...

This looks really delicious with the fire roasted tomatoes and wine. My husband and I are the same way. I would cook more vegetarian, however, he still likes meat and I would always be cooking two separate things. I think it would be easy to add some chicken in to this one for him though! Great job.

Previously Plump... in progress said...

WAHOO! I'm starting a cleanse in two weeks and minus the wine and cheese this recipe is a "yes" while on the cleanse :) I'm def. going to make this.

Thanks bella.

Joanne said...

I have been on a HUGE barley kick lately so I know I would love this. Especially when fresh tomatoes come into season...won't that be dreamy? I'm probably 70/30 vegetarian/omni but I've always got tons of veggies, that's for sure!