I love barley. I love its chewy, nutty, homespun-tasting earthiness. I love it in bean soups, in vegetable soups, and in "meaty" stews. I love it as non-rice risotto. I love it in its greatest and noblest form: beer. And I love it as the basis for this simple and delicious pilaf, which can serve as a main course, or as a side dish in a more elaborate meal. This is one of those times when it pays to get some high-quality barley from a specialty market or health food store, because you really want to taste the grain, and old, hard, stale barley just won't cut it. I made this pilaf to accompany this dish, which I'd originally planned to serve with short grain brown rice; finding we were out of the latter, I decided to experiment with what was on hand. And I'm really glad I did, because the end result was a definite keeper, and one I'm happy to share with you here.
Barley and Lentil Pilaf
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1/2 small onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
~ 1 stalk celery, diced
~ 1 small carrot, diced
~ 1.5 cups pearl barley
~ 1/2 cup brown lentils
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, Adobo seasoning
~ 1/2 tsp. each: sage, cumin
~ 1 large bay leaf
~ 4 cups water
~ In a medium-sized saucepan, saute the onion, celery, and carrot in the oil for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the barley, lentils, and spices, and cook another minute or two, stirring, until then barley gives off a toasty smell.
~ Pour in the water, cover the pot, and raise the heat to high. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 25-30 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
~ Remove the bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.