Thanksgiving is just around the corner now, approaching with alarming speed. Everywhere you look there’s another helpful suggestion about what to serve, how to lay out the table with coordinating colors, and even who to invite. There’s a whole lot of pressure here to sneak these ideas in under the gun, before plans are set and put into motion. Hopefully I’m not too late to hop on this train, as some people I know have been planning this event for weeks already, and others who have even begun to cook and freeze their desserts in advance, since the real cooking will be such an ordeal. Yikes, I never thought that such a humble holiday would become this huge production!
So any way, here I am, trying to be helpful, giving you this recipe that quite frankly, isn’t great. It’s a healthy, whole-grain alternative to what is usually a starchy carb-fest with pieces of stale bread, but I’ll admit it straight away- It’s lacking in the flavor department. I wouldn’t want any of you to serve it as is to Uncle Bob or Aunt Helen, who are already suspicious of your vegan ways. Instead, I thought I would offer you this recipe as a challenge; What would you do to remedy this sad stuffing?
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to modify the following recipe so that it’s vastly improved from this original state. The only restriction is that you may not change the grain (I will make exceptions for quick-cooking barley though. I would have used it myself if there was any on hand!) Just do me a favor and link back to this post on your blog, and email me directly to let me know that you’re entering this contest. You have until November 20th to submit your variation, and I’ll do a round up that same day. The winner will be awarded a prize, to be announced later since I have no idea what it will be right now. Just trust me, it’ll be good, so get to work and turn this wreck into an awesome Thanksgiving side dish!
Lack-Luster Barley Stuffing
1/2 Cup Pearled Barley
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
1/2 Cup Chopped Mushrooms
1 Zucchini, Diced
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts
Salt and Pepper
Rinse and drain your barley, and set aside. Place the stock in a medium pot, and bring it to a boil. Add in the washed barley and bay leaf, and let simmer for 30 – 45 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is al dente. Remove the bay leaf.
While the barley is cooking, you can start on the other components so that it comes together quickly. In a saute pan, heat up the oil over medium-low and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the onions start to take on a golden brown color, and add in the garlic. Saute for an additional 3 minutes or so to get some color on the garlic, and then toss in the rosemary, mushrooms, and zucchini. Mix everything around and cook just until the zucchini look somewhat translucent and are tender. Add in the peas at the last minute just so that they can defrost.
Toss the barley and veggies together in a large bowl, and mix in the nuts, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to get a good distribution of everything, and serve warm.
Now tell me, what will you do differently?