Barley Couscous with Spring Vegetables
Barley is often overlooked as a whole grain, which is a shame because it has such a pleasing mild flavor and phenomenal chewy texture, a tip-off to its high fiber content. I like to pair it with a little fresh corn and a colorful assortment of vegetables. This makes an admirable vegetarian main dish, but you can throw in some leftover roast (rotisserie) chicken at the end, if you like. 4 servings
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup pearled barley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups fat-free chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons dried currants
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 small (6-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3/4 cup corn kernels, preferably cut fresh from 1 ear
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 to 4 baby broccoli spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 to 5 asparagus spears, tough ends removed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large skillet or stovetop casserole, cook the onion in the olive oil over moderate heat until it is soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the barley, coriander, cinnamon, Aleppo pepper, saffron and salt. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes to toast. Pour in 2 cups water, cover, and cook until the barley is partially tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, currants, carrots, and sweet potato. Cook, partially covered, until the barley and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes longer.
- Add the corn, zucchini and asparagus and cook until the green vegetables are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste and a generous grinding of black pepper.