Jazz up humble barley in easy pilaf dish

Posted May 14, 2010, at 6:06 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

You know how we frequently are advised to eat more vegetables and whole grains? Eating more vegetables is relatively easy, but how to get more whole grains without making sandwiches and having oatmeal for breakfast is a bit tougher.

There is always rice, of course, and we actually like brown rice very much. In the summer we enjoy tabouli, that Middle Eastern cracked wheat salad with gobs of parsley in it. Yankees are used to potatoes, and kids like pasta, so there you have it.

This recipe helps a little. I found it in an old James Beard cookbook that someone gave me, lo, 40 years ago when I started living on my own. The cover and title page are long gone, and half the index has fallen off. I still can locate the barley recipe, though. In fact, it was this barley dish that I made for supper on Jamie’s and my first date. It was summer and we had salad and some other vegetable dish and this grain one. He was impressed, he says. He thought it was so smart of me to cook barley this way, though I didn’t find that out until years later.

You can jazz it up, of course. It calls for onion, and there are always mushrooms, celery and parsley. You could even introduce chicken or shellfish. It is brainlessly simple to make, and I extended the method to wheat berries, which are whole, unground wheat grains. At times I use some of each.

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It comes out pretty beige, so consider serving it with something green on it, such as snipped chives, parsley or scallions. Toasted almonds or sunflower or pumpkin seeds are a nice touch.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: tastebuds@prexar.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

Barley Pilaf

Yields 4 servings.

2-4 tablespoons butter and-or olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup pearl barley

2 cups broth, chicken or beef, or water

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in heavy pan and saute onion in it until onion is soft. Add barley and brown it a little, then put barley into a buttered baking dish. Add 1 cup of broth and the salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees about 25 minutes. When liquid is absorbed, add the second cup. Bake for another 20 minutes or until that liquid is absorbed. Garnish to taste.

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