Straight away I have to tell you that this was not my favorite dish. It wasn't the barley, I like barley dishes. I think it was the tahini dressing. Tahini (a critical ingredient in hummus) has a distinctive flavor that I don't even notice in hummus, but I did notice it in this dish. I will certainly try it again, maybe reducing the tahini just a little.
This recipe comes from The Kind Diet, and Alicia Silverstone starts the recipe with this introduction: "Get out your Birkenstocks! This casserole is hearty, tasty, and deeply groovy. Perfect for a family meal or to bring to a hippie potluck..."
So, you've been warned.
Just kidding - actually, it's a simple dish and one that should really have more vegetables in it, in my opinion. The little bit of celery and carrot (and onion if you are an onion-lover, we are not) are hardly noticeable in this dish. I'd recommend adding more vegetables.
When I cook barley, I get the Pearl Barley variety. I find it at Kroger in the healthy foods section.
This form of barley (also known as Whole Barley) has the three parts of the grain still in tact, and it's got more texture than processed barley.
I soak my barley in water for a few hours, then rinse and drain it well before cooking it.
If you don't have time, just rinse and drain it and get started.
I cooked the barley in boiling water that I then lowered to a simmer. It was good and tender after about 45 minutes.
While it was finishing up, I heated olive oil in a large skillet and cooked the garlic, then the vegetables, soy sauce, and dried herbs. I transferred the drained barley to the vegetables and heated it through. I added a little sea salt and then placed it in a baking dish.
I mixed up the tahini dressing, which is made up of tahini (found at Kroger), soy sauce, and a little garlic powder, paprika, dried basil, and dried oregano. I combined it in with the grains and vegetables and baked it at 350* for 35 minutes.
I liked the dried texture and the rest of the family liked it pretty well too.
Again, I think I'll add more vegetables and maybe reduced the tahini and see if I like it even more!
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