NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
October 28, 1999
Some people believe that chocolate tastes good on everything. While I appreciate what the complex flavor of chocolate does for many foods, even chicken, I'm reluctant to pronounce chocolate's universality.
But I have come across a side dish that I think transcends entrees. It would benefit equally a grilled beef steak or a sirloin roast, pan-fried pork tenderloins or chops, full-flavored fish--poached or baked, barbecued chicken, turkey, meatloaf or meat balls, and all sorts of wild game.
The texture of this dish's main ingredient is similar to that of wild rice, as is its somewhat nutty flavor. The mushrooms supply a nice complement to its main ingredient. The preparation of this dish involves sauteeing onions in butter. Now, the smell of frying onions alone usually can set off the taste buds of anyone within a 100-yard radius, but as the cooking progresses, the simmering fragrance becomes complex and even more inviting, a nice welcome for anyone who ventures in from outdoors. This, to me, is the ultimate test for comfort food: its nose appeal--the effect it has on someone with a snout full of fresh air.
What is this dish? A casserole, actually, with its main ingredient--barley--dating back to the Stone Age. I am willing to personally vouch for the tastiness of the recipe that follows. It's equally as good when served as a leftover. In fact, I think it would get compliments for the cook who served it cold with an oil and vinegar dressing. At any rate, I'm pretty sure that eating some Barley Casserole has the sensory power to turn many into modern-day hunter-gathers--those hunting for seconds to gather on their plates.
From SOARthe Searchable Online Archive of Recipes, University of California, Berkeley ( http://soar.Berkeley.EDU/recipes/ )
Yield: 8 servings
4 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, chopped
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1½ cups pearled barley
3 cups chicken or beef broth, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped parsley (optional)
Melt butter over medium heat on the stove top in an oven-proof pan such as a Dutch oven. Saute onions two minutes, add mushrooms and cook five to seven minutes more. Add barley. Cook until lightly browned, and add 2 cups of broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake 45 minutes in oven at 350 F. Remove pan and add remaining 1 cup of broth. Return covered pan to the oven and bake 30 minutes more. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
What's Your Take on This, Julie?
Some may think barley is best suited to be the makings of a frothy thirst quencher or dinner for livestock, but barley use goes beyond beer and animal feed. In fact, scientists have recognized barley for its nutrient content and potential health benefits for humans.
Barley is a member of the grass family. Available commercially in several forms including pearled, flour, flakes and grits, barley can be used in salads, casseroles, stir-fry and desserts. Pearled barley has been processed to remove the kernel's two outer husks; the light-colored interior (or endosperm) remains. Pearled barley cooks much faster than unprocessed barley, which requires soaking to soften the outer husks.
Barley is low in fat, sodium free and a good source of dietary fiber--particularly beta glucan, a type of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gum-like substance in the intestines and has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels when accompanied by a low-fat diet. Insoluble fiber, which helps curb constipation and may reduce the risk of colon cancer, is found in whole-grain foods and many vegetables and fruits.
Most American adults fall short of the current fiber recommendation: 35 grams daily. Barley can help you reach this goal. A third cup of barley contains about 5 grams of fiber. Sorry to say, beer is fiber-free. Ample liquid, however, is recommended with a high-fiber diet.
Researchers in the NDSU Food and Nutrition Department have used waxy hull-less barley in cereals, baked goods and even as a ground beef extender. Since it lacks a hull, this barley type does not require pearling. The starch it contains may help food products maintain quality through freezing and thawing better because it is chemically different from other types of starch.
The NDSU researchers found ways to boost fiber content in recipes. Waxy hull-less barley flour can be substituted for up to 25 percent of the wheat flour in yeast breads, up to 50 percent of the wheat flour in cookies and up to 100 percent of the wheat flour in various dessert bars and quick breads. This type of barley flour also may be substituted for oat bran in a 1-to-1 ratio.
If you're curious about the taste and texture of cooked barley, you don't need to go hunting for a barley recipe. Here's one to try using pearled barley. A serving of Barley Casserole (one-eighth of the recipe) contains about 220 calories, 7 grams of fat and 7 grams of fiber. It also provides about 10 percent of the daily recommendation for iron and 11 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C.
Sources: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136
Julie Garden-Robinson (701) 231-7187
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