In Barley, Lentils, Salad on November 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm

What a busy weekend!  Even when nothing is “planned”, I always feel like there’s so much to do.  Normally, I don’t cook on Fridays; it’s usually happy hour with the in-laws or dinner out with friends.  However, I pledged to be a good wifey and cook something wholesome every night this week.  Boy am I exhausted!

I wanted to use up what I had in the fridge, so I decided to make a mushroom, fennel, and barley casserole paired with a lentil puree and a side salad.  The first two are kind of condensed versions of soups that I make often, only this way there’s more bite to them.   The salad was a way to not only use up veggies, but crack open this amazing EVOO we bought in Italy.  It is so amazing, it should only be used for raw/fresh dishes.  We bought it at this small winery, where we also bought a whole case of Brunello wine.  I’m sure the 5 types of wine and shot of grappa we tasted weren’t a factor AT ALL.

The barley I used was hulled; that means the germ and bran are still intact (kind of like the brown rice version of pearled barley).  I rinsed it and then plopped into my handle rice cooker.  I love that is has liquid volume markers. Then I added the liquids – 1/2 water, 1/2 veg broth.  I like this combo because it enables me to add a lot of flavor without the expense of using ONLY broth.  I also added Earth Balance and salt.  When it’s done, it looks so golden and purty.  It takes about 45-50 minutes, so make sure to do something productive while it’s cooking away.






Knowing I had so much time, I figured I’d sit on the couch for 5 minutes and take a lil break.  Unfortunately, I got caught up in some DIY programs and lost track of the time.  The next thing I know the barley was done – ruh-roh.  I was planning to prep and roast the mushrooms and fennel during that time so everything would be ready for mixing at the same time.  Oh well, dinner would be a few minutes late.

I finally got off my lazy behind and got to work.  For roasting, I used only the fennel bulb; I would use some of the fronds to season the lentil dish and complement the barley.  After slicing it up, I thinly sliced some crimini mushrooms, diced some red onion, and crushed some garlic.  I tossed these on a roasting pan with EVOO, champagne vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme.

I roasted the mixture for about 30-35 minutes.  Here are the before and after shots.

While those were roasting,  I prepped the lentil dish.  I rinsed some pink lentils (which actually didn’t stay pink after cooking – bummer), diced some carrots/celery/onion, and minced some reserved fennel fronds.  After sauteing the veggies, I added some salt, pepper, thyme, and fennel fronds, mixed around, and then added the lentils.  After a minutes more, I deglazed with some vegetable broth, then added some more water.  Once it was up to a boil, I covered and let simmer until it got to the consistency of unpureed split pea soup.

Ok, now on to more multi-tasking!

During the lentil cooking, I mixed together the barley and the roasted mushroom combo with some additional vegetable broth and let it bake some more in the oven.  Let’s just say it came out a lil al dente.  I had to later put it back in with additional liquid, but it was so delish!







I also began to make the salad.  First was to make the dressing.  It was a vinaigrette using the Italian EVOO, champagne vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.  Then I let some red onion and reserved fennel bulb sit in the bowl with the dressing to break down some of the bitterness and sharpness.







I chopped up some tomato, cucumber, peppers (pretty standard garden salad), and let them sit while I pureed the lentils with my handy immersion blender (if you don’t have one, you can just do a ladle at a time in a regular blender).






While turning to face the stove, I noticed Indy mesmerized by SATC (this scene was in the dog park, but I couldn’t catch him barking while watching the dogs).  Isn’t he adoraballs?

Now it’s time to put everything together!  I mixed the baby spinach with the dressing, then added the chopped veggies.  Once it was on my plate, I topped it with some avocado slices.  EVERYONE needs some avocado in his life!  I feel bad for my soon-to-be cousin-in-law’s husband who is allergic to avocado.  How cruel is that?









The lentils and barley were both so flavorful, but kind of dull in color.  I’m glad I added some color with this salad.

I did it!  I made it through the week and cooked something different every night.  The next post will be about my CSA share and how I prep and use all these amazing veggies.


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