This simple pilaf is the perfect side dish for chicken done any way, or for grilled fish. You typically hear of pilaf made with rice, but I love this heartier version made with barley and studded with brightly colored vegetables.
I discovered this recipe recently in an issue of Bon Appétit magazine from 1995 that I’d pulled out of my basement library of old cooking magazines to procure another recipe. It’s so funny to read through old food magazines, to look at the photo styling and read about ingredients (like barley) that were new or fringe-y or hard to find years ago. The recipe’s headnote called barley “an ancient grain with newfound popularity”; these days, of course, you’ll find pearled barley in the bulk food section of any grocery, and its popularity is hardly newfound.
This barley pilaf recipe makes a ton (another quirk of old recipes: ginormous serving sizes!), so you’ll have plenty of leftovers. It’s great for lunch, or you could make a salad out of it by adding shredded cooked chicken. It’s also totally adaptable: I could see doing it with peas and asparagus in the springtime, or adding halved cherry tomatoes and chunks of goat cheese or Feta at the very end, and calling it a summer supper.
barley pilaf with red pepper and corn
(makes 6 generous servings)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cups pearled barley
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced (include white and light green parts)
1/2 cup sliced fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers; reduce heat to medium and add bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the barley and stir to coat with oil; cook, stirring frequently, until it's toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the broth; bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook at a low simmer until the barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Uncover and stir in the corn; cook for 5 minutes. Add the green onions, basil and parsley and stir gently. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.