So the past couple weeks have put me into meat overload. We not only undertook the massive chicken/broth-making expedition of 2010, but also a batch of moules marinieres, and a gargantuan london broil with roasted potatoes, carrots, onion, and brussels sprouts. Everything was great, but--wow. Our freezer is totally stuffed with the excess, and I don't want to see any meat again for at least a month.
Right! Let's eat some grain with vegetables!
Barley and vegetable salad
Ok. We're essentially going to cook the barley, sauté the vegetables, and mix them together. Easy.
To cook barley, I use the rice cooker. Just throw in a cup of dry barley, two cups of water, and turn the machine on. You can definitely do this in a pan as well; follow the general rules for cooking rice, and you should be fine. Hell, you can actually use rice instead of barley, and still be fine. Any grain is good here.
While your barley is cooking, warm a little olive oil in a sauté pan. Dice up whatever vegetables sound appealing, starting with alliums. I think I used a red torpedo onion and its greens for this one, but whatever you have on hand should work. Soften your onion (minus any greens; save those for later) while you cut up your other veg. Use a lot, as you want the vegetables to be a good half of the finished product. I had a bagful of wrinkly red and yellow peppers from the seconds table at the farmer's market, so I used maybe three of them, all slightly spicy but mostly sweet. If you want spicier peppers, go ahead and use them. If you're using chard, chop up the stems and add them at this point too. While all those are softening, chop your greens, including any onion greens, and set them aside until the very end of cooking. If you have any parsley or other fresh herbs, chop them up as well.
When your barley and veg are cooked, turn off all the heat. Add the uncooked greens to the pan of veg, and dump as much hot grain as you want on top. Let the pan sit for a minute or two while you wash the other dishes; this will steam the greens without overcooking them. Then all you have to do is add some salt and pepper, stir everything together, add a squeeze of lemon (or a sprinkle of vinegar, or even vinaigrette), and eat it.
Grain salads like this are good hot or cool, so it's worthwhile to make enough for a couple days. You can either eat them plain, for zero-effort lunch, or use them as a component in something else, like this big wrap. All I did here was slightly warm a big flatbread in the toaster oven, spread it with labneh, add leftover salad, and top with raw chard. The result: gargantuan, filling, and damn near instant lunch.