We brighten up a dish of tender barley with sweet pan-roasted carrots and a tangy yogurt-based sauce.
Barley with Roasted Carrots, Snow Peas, and Lemon-Yogurt Sauce
SERVES 4 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS For a hearty grain-based entrée ideal for a refreshing supper or substantial lunch, we turned to pearl barley paired with fresh snow peas, spears of sweet pan-roasted carrots, and toasted, spiced sunflower seeds. To keep the cooking method easy and the individual grains distinct and light, we simply boiled the barley until tender, then tossed it with a bright lemon-mint dressing. While the barley cooked, we pan-roasted the carrots and sautéed the snow peas with coriander. Toasted sunflower seeds coated with cardamom, cumin, and a bit more coriander provided a contrasting crunch and warm, aromatic finish. To pull it all together, we created a zesty yogurt sauce infused with lemon and mint to drizzle over the top. Do not substitute hulled barley or hull-less barley in this recipe. If using quick-cooking or presteamed barley (read the ingredient list on the package to determine this), you will need to decrease the barley cooking time in step 1.
½ cup plain yogurt
1½ teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1½ tablespoons juice
1½ tablespoons minced fresh mint
Salt and pepper
1 cup pearl barley
5 carrots, peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
8 ounces snow peas, strings removed, halved lengthwise
⅔ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
1. Whisk yogurt, ½ teaspoon lemon zest and 1½ teaspoons juice, 1½ teaspoons mint, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Add barley and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. Drain barley, return to now-empty pot, and cover to keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, halve carrots crosswise, then halve or quarter lengthwise to create uniformly sized pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add carrots and ½ teaspoon coriander and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add snow peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to plate.
4. Heat 1½ teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add sunflower seeds, cumin, cardamom, remaining ¼ teaspoon coriander, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until seeds are toasted, about 2 minutes; transfer to small bowl.
5. Whisk remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon mint, and remaining 1½ tablespoons oil together in large bowl. Add barley and carrot–snow pea mixture and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping individual portions with spiced sunflower seeds and drizzling with yogurt sauce.
ALL ABOUT COOKING GRAINS
From bulgur to freekeh, the types of grains and the best methods for cooking them can vary tremendously. Some grains, such as bulgur, cook in minutes, and others, such as barley or wheat berries, take much longer. Here in the test kitchen we have homed in on three basic methods for cooking grains. We then determined which are best for each type of grain. While some grains, such as bulgur, take well to any cooking method, others will turn out best when cooked with a specific method.
BOILING DIRECTIONS Bring water to boil in large saucepan. Stir in grain and ½ teaspoon salt. Return to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until grain is tender, following cooking times given in chart below. Drain.
PILAF-STYLE DIRECTIONS Rinse and then dry grain on towel. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Stir in grain and toast until lightly golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring mixture to simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until grain is tender and has absorbed all of water, following cooking times given below. Off heat, let grain stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with fork.
MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS Rinse grain (see here ). Combine water, grain, 1 tablespoon oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl. Cover and cook following times and temperatures given below. Remove from microwave and fluff with fork. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, poke several vent holes with tip of knife, and let sit until completely tender, about 5 minutes.
NOTES FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
Storing Rice, Grains, and Beans
To prevent rice, grains, and beans from spoiling in the pantry, store them in airtight containers; if you can, keep rice and grains in the freezer. This is especially important for whole grains, which turn rancid with oxidation. Use rice and grains within six months. Beans can be kept up to a year, but you will get the best results if you use beans within the first month or two of purchase.