Spicy Quinoa and Pearled Barley with Roasted Vegetables

5 Feb

This dish was the perfect storm of super foods – quinoa, barley, beets (including the greens), and raw garlic – and some hangers-on that are no slouches either, such as lemons, carrots, and tomatoes.  It was also absolutely gorgeous.  The picture really doesn’t do the true poignancy of the deep red justice.  The flavors also worked beautifully together.  The beets and roasted vegetables were sweet, there was a nice bite of acid from the lemon juice and tomatoes, the chili garlic sauce lent a nice, mouth-warming spice, and the beet greens were just slightly bitter.  I couldn’t stop scarfing this down, which okay when it’s something as healthy as this was.  This would make an equally delicious vegetarian dish by substituting the chicken stock with vegetable broth or water.

This would also be a really beautiful side dish for Valentine’s Day.  It’s red, for one.  Also, it’s slightly sweet and slightly spicy.  Which is just the way I like things on Valentine’s Day, if you know what I mean. ;)  If you serve it as a side (perhaps with some salmon, to keep up the color scheme), halve the recipe and it will be a hearty side for a romantic meal for two.

Quinoa and Pearled Barley with Roasted Vegetables

1 cup pearled barley, rinsed

1/2 cup quinoa

4 cups homemade chicken

2 medium beets, scrubbed clean

1 large carrot, scrubbed clean

1/2 cup plum tomatoes, halved

Beet greens from 3-4 beets

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 tbs. olive oil, divided

2 tsp. chili garlic sauce

1 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Pinch Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 375º.

Roll out two large sheets of tinfoil (about six inches long) and place them on top of one another.  Place beets on center of sheet and drizzle twith 1 tbs. of olive oil, making sure beets are evenly coated.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Create a tinfoil packet for the beets by folding the top layer of tinfoil lengthwise, folding the edges over, and crimping.  Repeat with the bottom layer of tinfoil.  Just in case, place on a baking sheet to catch drippings.  Place beet package in oven and roast roughly one hour.  When cooked, a knife will be easily inserted into the largest part of the beet.

Cut carrot into 1/4″ segments.  Place carrots and tomatoes on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and coat evenly with 1 tbs.  of olive oil.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Place in oven along with beets and roast 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The vegetables are roasted when browned and fork tender.

Meanwhile, bring homemade chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add pearled barley reduce heat to a maintain a steady simmer.  Simmer for 30  minutes until pearled barley is slightly tender but not cooked through.  Add quinoa and cook another 15-20 minutes until quinoa is cooked through (the little pellets will “explode”).

When beet is fully cooked, remove tinfoil packet from oven and carefully open (there will be steam, so watch out).  Pour olive oil, which should be infused with a lovely red from the beet into a small mixing bowl and set aside.  Once cool enough to handle, slip off skin of beet.  Dice into 1/4″ cube.  You may want to use a pair of latex gloves so as not to stain your fingers.

Meanwhile, remove beet greens from center stems.  Roll up leaves and chop into thin ribbons.  Chop stems into 1/2″ segments.  Heat 1 tbs. of olive oil and add beet stems.   Sauté 1-2 minutes, then add been greens.  Sauté 2-3 minutes until beet greens and stems are tender.

Add garlic, 2 tbs. olive oil, chili garlic sauce, lemon juice, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to reserved beet juice.  Whisk together.

Toss together pearled barley, quinoa,  roasted beets, roasted carrots, roasted tomatoes, beet greens, and beet stems.  Add olive oil/chili garlic sauce mixture to grains and vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.  Garnish with a pinch of grated Parmesan.

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