This vegetarian stew is so hearty, it could easily satisfy the appetite of even the biggest meat eater.
The rich, gravy-like sauce masks the fact that this is actually a very healthy entree, featuring a complete balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables.
Don't be afraid of the long list of ingredients; many of them are spices or seasonings that you will already have on hand.
Use the vegetables I call for here or choose to use your own favorite vegetables in place of these.
This stew is truly a one-dish meal.
I usually serve it alone or with just a simple salad and perhaps some homemade bread fresh from the oven.
Fresh, Oven-Baked Bread
Simple Leafy Green Salad
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
5-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cups broccoli florets (about 1 small head)
2 cups coarsely sliced cabbage (about 1/4 head)
3 cups spinach, washed and dried
Place the barley, 1-1/2 cups of the water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a medium-sized saucepan.
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
Cook for about 40 minutes until all or most of the water is absorbed and the barley is cooked.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, preferably nonstick pot.
Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just begins to wilt (about 3 minutes.)
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to mix it in thoroughly.
Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes until the flour is a tan color (approximately the color of peanut butter), taking care not to let the flour burn.
Add the remaining 4 cups of water, remaining teaspoon of salt, wine, soy sauce, paprika, thyme, cumin, and cayenne.
Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Add the potatoes and carrots and return to a simmer.
Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Add the broccoli and green beans and cook for another 7 minutes.
Add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes more.
If the sauce thickens up too much at any point, simply add more water and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Finally, add the spinach and barley and cook until the spinach wilts and the barley heats through.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Beans and Grains
Recipes A to Z
There are a number of steps to this recipe making it somewhat time-consuming to prepare.
You can cook the barley and partially cook the sauce a day ahead of time if you like (bring the sauce to simmer and then stop.)
Keep both tightly covered in the refrigerator overnight.
Then, simply bring the sauce up to a simmer and proceed with the recipe from there.
When cooking with red wine, be sure to choose a good, full-bodied wine.
Choose an inexpensive wine, but one that you would enjoy drinking (in other words, just because you are cooking with it doesn't mean you can get away with using the cheapest wine you can find.)