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barley pilaf

barley pilafWeeknight meal planning can be a royal pain but if you’re a busy person, it all makes good economic sense.  My daughter does her meal prep religiously and usually sends me a snapchat of what she’s made. She spends a couple of hours in an evening and that saves her time for the rest of the week.  It’s also a perfect way to stay on a food budget and not be tempted to eat out when you have a meal already to go in the fridge. Continue Reading →

warm barley salad

warm barley saladBarley is one of those staple grains that sit in my pantry for the longest time and then, without rhyme or reason, I go on a barley binge!  I usually throw barley in soups or stews but recent years have seen me use it as a substitute for rice, mixed in with roasted vegetables and tossed in warm or cold salads.  Rich in many nutrients, barley is a staple everyone should have in their cupboard. Continue Reading →

Barley and Bacon Risotto

barley and bacon risottoStir. Stir. Stir.

This is my cheats version of risotto and does not require frequent visits to the stove top.  A typical risotto recipe involves going back to the pot to stir in each ladleful of stock when the last one has been absorbed.  Although it doesn’t take long to cook (roughly 30 minutes), you do have to keep a watchful eye on it.  I adore a good risotto and it’s one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.  I, like other semi-decent cooks, can multitask my way around a kitchen but when the lazy side of me takes over, I look for ways to cut corners.  Continue Reading →

Quinoa Barley Salad

Quinoa Barley Salad by The Culinary ChaseSpring is such a pretty time of the year with new growth, greenery, flowers and birds singing. Many will embark on a Spring cleaning campaign of their homes, open up cottages, and plant gardens all of which require a well-fueled body. This quinoa barley salad will keep you satiated for hours and give you the energy to fulfill those Spring cleanup chores. Barley has a chewy, pasta-like consistency. It’s a super grain in my books – rich in fiber (helps lower cholesterol and good for intestinal health) and helps curb your appetite for high calorie food. Quinoa, the super seed hailing from South America, is high in protein, good source of riboflavin, and is low glycemic index (won’t spike your blood sugar). This salad is perfect for a pot luck gathering, barbeque or picnic.

Serves 4 to 6
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup red quinoa
1 tablespoon minced garlic
handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
heirloom tomato, roughly chopped
yellow cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Cook barley and quinoa according to package instructions. Allow to cool to room temperature.
lemons zested by The Culinary ChaseIn a large bowl add herbs, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Mix to combine and then add quinoa and barley. Toss and add tomatoes. If the mixture looks dry, add enough olive oil to moisten. Adjust seasoning according to taste. Serve room temperature or cold.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
A vegetarian delight! Add crumbled feta cheese, chopped cucumber for added crunch and fresh dill. Enjoy!

Braised Lamb with Roast Carrot and Mixed Grains

braised lamb with roast carrot & mixed grains by The Culinary ChaseLamb is traditionally associated with the end of winter and so as a sign that Spring is almost here, I present to you Spring-in-a-Dish!   Braised anything in my family is very well-received and I knew this one was going to be a winner.  I made this last week and enjoyed it so much I made it again.  Typically braised lamb is serve with root vegetables but I like this recipe for its inclusion of clean eating foods – bulgur, barley and quinoa.  They top the charts in nutritional health benefits and should be incorporated in our diet.

Serves 4
adapted from Gourmet Traveller

extra-virgin olive oil
500g boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
300ml beer
6 sage leaves
1 star anise

Roasted carrots and mixed grains –
2 bunches carrots, scrubbed and cut lengthways in half
5 thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, crushed
splash of fresh lemon juice
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup each coarse bulgur, barley, red quinoa
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
fried sage leaves, topping (optional)

braised lamb by The Culinary Chase

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add lamb and cook until browned (3 to 4 minutes).  Remove meat from pot and set aside. Heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pot, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until tender (8 to 10 minutes).  Return lamb to pot and add beer, sage and star anise, bring to a boil.   Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender (3 to 3½ hours; top up with extra beer if necessary).
  • Preheat oven to 350f (180c).   Prepare carrots by combining thyme, garlic and a splash of lemon juice and olive oil in a roasting tray.  Season and roast until golden and cooked through (35-40 minutes). Set aside. While carrots are roasting, combine bulgur and enough boiling water in a bowl to just cover and set aside until tender and fluffy (covered 20-30 minutes). Rinse barley and quinoa separately under cold running water, drain.  Cook in separate saucepans of boiling water until tender (15 to 20 minutes for barley; 10 to 15 minutes for quinoa). Drain well.  Combine all grains in a large bowl with parsley, lemon juice and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. To serve, add mixed grains topped with braised lamb, fried sage leaves and carrots to one side.

roasted carrots by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: Go for a lighter beer (pale lager) to compliment the gamey flavor of the lamb.  I cooked the barley and quinoa in the same pot cooking the barley first for 5 minutes then adding the quinoa…I dislike using more pots than necessary.  The juice from roasted lemons taste better and tend to become somewhat sweeter when roasted. Cut a whole lemon into quarters and add to the pan of carrots.  Squeeze this juice over the cooked grains.  Enjoy!

Barley Salad with Roasted Squash and Fennel

Barley Salad with Roasted Squash and Fennel by The Culinary ChaseIt can be a challenge keeping your kids healthy when they live at home but when they leave the nest for university or boarding schools this can be a bigger challenge. We’re happy to be back in Nova Scotia for many reasons and one of those is that Laura is able to hop on a bus and within a couple of hours she’s home.

Such was the case last weekend…she wanted to come home and get well so she could celebrate the much awaited X-Ring ceremony.  The X-Ring is a coveted ring from St. Francis Xavier University.  And it’s not just any school ring.  It was created in 1942 by Willie MacDougall but before that, each graduating class appointed a committee to design a pin for their class with its own motto.  The first ring ceremony took place in 1958.  The ceremony, which is a formal event, is held every year on the 3rd of December and is regarded by the StFX students as the highlight of their university life.  In order to qualify for the ring, students must have at least 103 credits.  The ring is noted for being the third most recognized in the world behind the Pope ring and the super bowl ring.  Laura, like most other students at St.FX, had a digital countdown to the ceremony at least a year in advance!  She was so excited to get her ring she didn’t know if she could sleep the night before… it was as if she was 5 again anxiously waiting for Santa Claus.

X-Ring ceremony

Serves 4
adapted from River Cottage VEG

small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed (view video)
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (more if you like)
handful parsley, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

barley by The Culinary Chase1. Preheat the oven to 375f.  Arrange squash in a large roasting pan. Add a splash of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss and place in the oven to roast. Meanwhile, cut the fennel lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges.

2. After 15 minutes, add the fennel and garlic to the roasting pan with the squash and another tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize around the edges.

3. While the veggies are roasting, cook the barley in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, but still with just a bit of nutty bite; around 25 minutes. Drain well and leave to cool a little (or completely for a cold salad). Toss with the roasted veg, and any oil from the roasting pan, lemon juice, cheese, parsley and any fennel fronds. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Shave over some more cheese and serve warm or cold.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: This salad tastes great hot, warm or cold! Serve it as a side or as a main meal. Enjoy!

The X-Ring is proudly being displayed!

The X-Ring is proudly being displayed!