Cheap. Easy. Fast. It reads like a less-than-discrete ad on Craig’s List. But it’s meant to describe my take on on a fast-food dinner.
From the comments I receive, it’s clear I’m not the only one who loves healthy meals that are quick and easy (perhaps 7+ years of graduate school helped me figure that out, too). And if the meals are frugal, all the better.
This quick and easy assemblage of barley and edamame is inspired by risotto. But it is uber-frugal and incredibly convenient.
The key ingredients are ones I tend to keep on hand all the time for fast food cooking. First up, frozen vegetables. I love a farmers’ market as much as the next person, but one cannot live by turnips and kale alone. So whether it’s for a spur-of-the-moment dinner or impromptu lunch, I love having a freezer stocked with frozen vegetables. And the $2.50 a bag price for the frozen edamame satisfies my inner cheapskate. Pearl barley–nutty and toothsome–create a fantastic risotto-like base with no stirring.
And last, pearl barley, a wonder product if ever there was one. This isn;t the barley version of minute rice where the grain stripped of all things nutritious; rather, regular pearled barley is steamed and flattened (dry, it looks much like old-fashioned rolled oats). The grain remains intact, so while the barley cooks in a record time of 10 minutes, the end result is as healthful as regular pearled barley.
Now back to the recipe at hand. This is one delicious dish; the edamame have a fresh sweetness that is positively scrumptious in combination with the nuttiness of the barley, making this pure comfort food as well as power food. Enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups chopped onion
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups uncooked pearl barley
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 12-ounce bag frozen shelled edamame
- Pepper to taste
- Optional if not vegan: grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add onion; cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add barley; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add the water, broth and salt to pan;; bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes; uncover and stir in the edamame.
- Recover and cook 10 minutes longer or until liquid evaporates and barley is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Let stand for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If not vegan, spinkle with cheese.