Food cravings can be unpredictable, but for me they’re a way of life. Often the cravings are for something understandable like chocolate, a salty snack, or even fruit. But for some odd reason this evening I craved barley. There was something about the nutty chewiness of this nutritious grain that I needed.
So, I decided to do a bit of experimenting to see if I could make a full meal based on barley. And… I did. And… it rocked!
The result was sort of a pilaf of barley with oven-roasted Brussels sprouts and winter squash. And then, from the suggestion of @LDGourmet on Twitter, I topped the whole thing with rosemary turkey meatballs to make for a complete and filling meal.
Here’s the recipe:
Brussels Sprouts & Squash Barley with Rosemary Turkey Meatballs – makes 2 entree portions
1 cup pearled barley
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup peeled and diced winter squash (about 1/2 of a medium Delicata)
1 cup small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Combine the barley, water and a pinch of salt in a small pot. Set it over high heat and bring the water just to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 50 to 60 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
Toss the squash, Brussels sprouts, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Place the dish in the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 350°F. Add the cooked onions and barley to the baking dish with the vegetables. Mix well. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons water and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the dish oven.
To make the turkey meatballs, in a bowl combine the ground turkey, egg, bread crumbs, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Mix well with your hands and form the turkey into small balls about the diameter of a nickle.
Pour 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan used to cook the onions and set the burner to medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until browned on at least 3 sides (the balls are small so it may be hard to brown on all sides), about 6 to 8 minutes total. Place the pan in the oven and cook alongside the barley and vegetables until the meatballs are cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes.
To serve, divided the barley mixture between two dinner plates and top each with half the turkey meatballs.