Veggie Barley Bake

Our charming book club hostess, Beth, served this dish for a cold winter evening dinner, and I went nuts for it. I think of barley as such a wonderful hearty and healthy grain, but it’s rarely served except as part of a beef barley soup, which gets kind of old in my opinion. Beth says she loves serving the veggie barley bake; kids eat it, it’s healthy with barley and lots of veggies, and it tastes like lasagna. What’s not to love about that? You can use whatever combination of veggies suits your fancy or your leftovers. You just need approximately 10 cups of chopped vegetables in all. For Locavorious members who haven’t eaten up all the veggies from last month yet, here’s a great recipe….answering the questions, “What should I make with this? And that?”

As I mentioned I went a little nuts for this dish, making a couple variations already and surprising Chef Jeff who usually expects spicier things to make my favorites list. Here are some versions:

  1. The Book Club Selection: green beans and sweet potatoes
  2. Locavorious This & That: 16 oz frozen summer squash, ½ bag of broccoli, ½ bag green beans, a handful of red peppers and some leftover snap peas.
  3. Rena’s Favorite So Far: 16 oz frozen cauliflower, 15 oz frozen Swiss chard, sweet potatoes

    Locavorious This & That in the pot.

The Veggie Barley Bake Formula

2 tbsp oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 onion, chopped

2 average carrots, sliced

9 – 10 cups chopped frozen vegetables

3/4 cup barley

15 oz frozen stewed tomatoes, thawed + ½ cup water *or* 1 1/2 cups tomato broth

1 tsp salt

1 tsp. oregano

1 – 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in large heavy skillet and sauté garlic and onion until softened, 3 -5 minutes.  Add remaining vegetables and sauté, stirring a few times, for 5 minutes.  Add barley, tomato broth, and seasonings; bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Transfer contents of the skillet to a shallow 4 quart casserole; stir in 1 cup of the cheese.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Veggies and barley should be tender.  If not, cover and cook longer.  Top casserole with remaining cheese if desired and return to oven uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Mmmm…I think I’ll eat the rest.

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