Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breakfast Barley with Apples, Cinnamon, and Pecans

I have to confess... I'm not a fan of quinoa. Despite the massive amount of attention it receives, and all the creative ways I've seen it prepared, it's a grain I just don't enjoy. Too bad, because I know it's extremely healthy.

Despite not liking quinoa, I still like to look at all the inventive ways it's prepared. When I see an interesting quinoa recipe, I know I can easily swap out the quinoa for a grain I do enjoy. A few months ago, I saw a tasty-looking recipe for breakfast quinoa, with great flavors that I often use when preparing my typical oatmeal breakfast. After looking at the recipe, I was inspired to apply these same flavors to a grain I don't typically associate with breakfast. Like barley. I love cooking with barley. I wish this humble grain got a bit more attention in the food world. Unlike some grains, its individual granules retain their shape and remain chewy after cooking. It is a longer cooking grain, taking around 40 minutes to cook, but I think it's well worth it for both its texture and for its nutritional goodness.

So how did barley fare with a sweeter breakfast palette? Fantastically. It was mild enough in flavor to meld nicely with the sweet fruits, yet the chewy texture of the barley far surpassed that of regular oatmeal, which can often times turn into gelatinous goop. It even beat out steel cut oats in my opinion. Suffice it to say, barley is my new go-to breakfast cereal. The leftovers even taste great cold!


Breakfast Barley with Apples, Cinnamon, and Pecans
Inspired by Skinnytaste's Apples and Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa

Yield: 2 servings

Note: This recipe can easily be doubled to allow for leftovers throughout the week. It reheats very well, but also tastes great cold.

1/2 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup non-fat evaporated milk
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons dried cherries
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
2 apples, diced* (I used Pink Ladies)

Rinse barley well. Add barley, water, and cinnamon to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, until most of the liquid has been aborbed and the barley is tender, about 40-50 minutes. Let stand five minutes. Stir in vanilla extract and applesauce.

Divide the barley into two bowls. Rememering to divide the remaining ingredients evenly between the two bowls, pour the milk over the barley, and then top with the dried fruit, pecans, and fresh cut apple. Enjoy.

*If you are preparing extra barley for leftovers throughout the week, I recommend you dice your apple right before you eat the barley. If you dice all the apples at once, and store them in the fridge with the exra barley, the apples will most likely turn brown.

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