Cajun barley

    1 hour 5 min

    Barley is one of the crops that farmers love, due to its short growing season and hardy nature. We should love this nutty, wholesome grain too, since it is so good for us. Here it has been given the flavours of the American Deep South, with a range of green vegetables and plenty of spice. Serve it with sausages or lamb kebabs.

    2 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 200 g (7 oz) pearl barley
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 spring onions, the white and green parts chopped separately
    • 2 celery sticks, chopped
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 1 fresh green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • ½ tsp ground cumin
    • ¼ tsp dried thyme
    • ¼ tsp cracked black peppercorns
    • pinch of cayenne pepper
    • 500 ml (17 fl oz) vegetable stock
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • salt
    • lemon wedges to serve

    Prep:15min  ›  Cook:50min  ›  Ready in:1hr5min 

    1. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the pearl barley and toast, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes or until the grains just start to brown and smell fragrant. Remove from the heat immediately, transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.
    2. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole over a moderate heat. Add the white parts of the spring onions, the celery, onion and green pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes or until slightly softened, stirring occasionally.
    3. Stir in the chilli, garlic, cumin, thyme, peppercorns and cayenne pepper. Saute for a further 5 minutes, stirring well.
    4. Add the barley and stock to the casserole. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 30–40 minutes or until the barley is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
    5. Season with salt to taste and stir in the lemon juice. Scatter over the green spring onion tops and serve, with lemon wedges.

    Some more ideas

    For Tex-Mex barley, omit the celery, green pepper and thyme, and add 1 finely chopped fresh red chilli and the finely grated zest of 1 lime in step 3. Add the juice of the lime in place of the lemon juice. * To make braised barley, omit the toasting of the barley, but cook the spring onions, celery, onion and green pepper as in the main recipe. Add ½ tsp each of dried thyme and sage, ½ tsp ground cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper, and saute for 5 more minutes. Add the pearl barley and stock, and cook as in the main recipe. About 10 minutes before the barley is done, add 100 g (3½ oz) small broccoli florets and 100 g (3½ oz) green beans, cut into 2 cm (¾ in) pieces. Before serving, stir in 1 tbsp snipped fresh chives.

    Plus points

    Barley has a similar nutrient content to other cereals, with most of the minerals and vitamins in the outer layers. When the outer bran and germ are removed to make pearl barley, there is some loss of vitamins, particularly B1. * Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of top grade olives. Because it is produced with minimal heat and refining, it retains more phytochemicals and essential fatty acids than highly refined oils. * Weight for weight, chillies are richer in vitamin C than citrus fruits such as oranges. However, to gain this nutritional benefit you would have to eat substantially more chillies than you are likely to, or would want, to eat.

    Each serving provides

    C * B6, folate, niacin, copper, iron, zinc

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