Jan 14
2013

Barley Stew Recipe with Caramelized Onions, White Beans & Spinach

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Barley Stew Recipe with Caramelized Onions, White Beans & Spinach by Cookin' Canuck

I’ll admit that I get a high out of creating a vegetarian stew recipe for Meatless Monday that is filling, low in calories, packs a punch of protein (beans) and fiber (barley and spinach) and, most importantly, my family enjoys (thank you, caramelized onions).

My poor husband had to listen patiently as I rattled off the nutritional data (see the bottom of the recipe). However, truth be told, he’s even better at keeping track of his protein, fiber and healthy fat intake than I am as he prepares for his next marathon (Boston, baby!) As a result we eat a lot (and I mean “a lot”) of whole grains, lean protein, vegetables and fruits, and try to keep the siren calls of the sugared treats to a dull roar.

If you are really determined to take advantage of barley’s nutritional benefits, look for hulled barley, usually found in health food stores. In this form, only the outer layer of the barley layer is removed, leaving the nutritious bran layer intact. The downside is that the barley will take longer to cook. Pearl barley, which is more widely available, takes less time to cook than the hulled barley. The payoff, however, is that both the outer and bran layers are removed to leave the inner pearl exposed. That being said, pearl barley still boasts some nutritional benefits, weighing in with 6 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per cup of cooked barley.

I recently spotted quick cooking barley on the shelf at my local supermarket, but have never tried it. If you have any experience cooking with it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the taste and texture.

The recipe:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 15 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup water, cover the pan and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Barley Stew Recipe with Caramelized Onions, White Beans & Spinach

Add the balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook for additional 30 seconds.

Add the diced tomatoes and their juices and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the pearl barley and vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the barley is almost tender, about 40 minutes.

Barley Stew Recipe with Caramelized Onions, White Beans & Spinach

Stir in the cannellini beans, cover and cook for additional 10 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.

Barley Stew Recipe with Caramelized Onions, White Beans & Spinach by Cookin' Canuck

Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. If the stew is too thick, add some vegetable broth to thin it. Serve.

Other whole grain stews or soups:

Healthy Stew and Soup Recipes
Cookin’ Canuck’s Lean Bison & Barley Soup with Green Peas
Cookin’ Canuck’s Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa
La Fujimama’s Toshikoshi Soba (Soba Noodle Soup)
Skinnytaste’s Beef, Potato & Quinoa Soup
fANNEtastic Food’s Turkey, Veggie & Barley Chili

Barley Stew Recipe with Caramelized Onions, White Beans & Spinach

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

Serving Size: 1/6 of the stew

Calories per serving: 261 cal (complete nutritional data listed below)

Fat per serving: Total 2.3g / Saturated Fat 0.4g

Barley Stew Recipe with Caramelized Onions, White Beans & Spinach

From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. www.cookincanuck.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut in half & thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, including juices
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, plus more for thinning
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can cannellini beans
  • 3 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add 1/4 cup water, cover the pan and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook for additional 30 seconds.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  6. Add the barley and vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the barley is almost tender, about 40 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cannellini beans, cover and cook for additional 10 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
  8. Stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. If the stew is too thick, add some vegetable broth to thin it. Serve.

Notes

Calories 261 / Total Fat 2.3g / Saturated Fat 0.4g / Cholesterol 0mg / Sodium 610.5mg / Total Carbohydrates 51.1g / Fiber 10.8g / Sugars 4.1g / Protein 10.3g / WW (Old Points) 5 / WW (Points+) 6 / (Nutritional data does not include extra salt, pepper or broth.)

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 megan @ whatmegansmaking January 14, 2013 at 4:30 am

This sounds really good! I’ve used quick cooking barley in soup and really like it, but I’ve actually never used regular barley so I have nothing to compare it to.

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2 Liz @ The Lemon Bowl January 14, 2013 at 6:35 am

I have a bunch of hull-less barley that I LOVE but haven’t used in awhile – may have to try it in this. Looks delish, Dara.

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3 shelly (cookies and cups) January 14, 2013 at 6:56 am

I love this! It’s prefect food for the icky weather that we have been having lately.. totally cozy and yummy!

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4 Bev @ Bev Cooks January 14, 2013 at 7:29 am

Ohhhhhhh yeah, bay-bay.

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5 Katie Robinson January 14, 2013 at 7:54 am

This looks great! I’ll try it. Might posh it up with some crumbled goats cheese or shaved Parmesan. Thanks.

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6 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar January 14, 2013 at 8:03 am

This looks so healthy! What a great idea for packed lunches :)

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7 Sara Jessica January 14, 2013 at 9:12 am

Very easy recipe for such a healthy plate, and it looks very delicious too, the look of the food is very important when you kids who keep nagging about food!

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8 Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 14, 2013 at 10:23 am

Love everything about this stew, Dara! (Especially the caramelized onions!)

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9 Arlene January 14, 2013 at 11:14 am

I use Quick cooking Barley all the time. Tired all the others (didn’t care for the taste) when cooking the Quick Barley don’t cook it all the way its really good.

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10 Dara @how_to_eat January 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

I love love LOVE caramelized onions! Really, I could just eat them with a spoon! So obviously, I will be trying this. Thanks for posting!

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11 Gerry @ Foodness Gracious January 14, 2013 at 11:38 am

This would be awesome for our “bitter” So Cal weather ;)

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12 Amanda January 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Cant get over how stunning your photography is… I want to reach through my screen and try some! Wonderful job!

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13 kelley January 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm

This looks amazing, Dara. No one would ever miss the meat in a hearty and filling dish like this! I can only imagine how wonderful the caramelized onions make this dish!

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14 Erika @ The Hopeless Housewife January 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm

This sounds really good and I really love barley in soups, so filling!

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15 Michelle January 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Hi Dara,

I’m friends with Cindy BeMent, the “other” Boston mara girl. I live in the same small city that she does so I’m blessed to have Cindy’s company often. (You’ll have to ask her what her lunch consisted of yesterday. Sheesh.)
Anyway, I’m going to hang out it at your blog for a while and learn your recipes to eat healthier. I can’t wait to be transformed. (No pressure.)
I have a writing blog where I teach writers how to get published. I thought it might be cool to share one of your recipes for “comfort” eating while we write. Can you recommend one and would it be okay if I shared one of your posts here over at my site? (Linking it back to you, of course.) Some of my best (and worst) eating is done while writing. I bet some of my followers do the same. We may as well make it healthy. What do you think?
Thanks,
Michelle
Random Writing Rants

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16 carolinaheartstrings January 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

That looks terrific! This is my kind of meal.

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17 Karen Petersen January 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I’m obsessed with barley lately. I’m going to have to make this one!
Karen

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18 Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet January 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm

This looks incredible Dara. I love cooking with barley and beans. So filling and hearty.

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19 Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl January 17, 2013 at 11:11 am

This sounds fabulous. I love to see a good and hearty vegetarian recipe for stew. So yummy!

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20 Louise January 19, 2013 at 9:05 am

I made this last night and it was fabulous! It is very inexpensive to make and serves two people, twice. Looking forward to having it for lunch!

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21 Jordan J January 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Made it tonight, and it was glorious! I added a little brown sugar to the carmelization process to make it sweeter and added some jalapeños to give it a little kick.

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22 Loryn February 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Yum! This stew was great. Very hearty, and perfect for a cold winter night. I’m vegetarian and love to see Meatless Monday recipes!

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23 Loryn February 16, 2013 at 8:02 am

I’m getting ready to make this again. It was fantastic, and the leftovers were great for lunches. A little grated parm on top was the perfect garnish. Thanks for posting it!

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24 Kerry April 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

I made this tonight and it was so good!! I didn’t have cannellini beans on hand so I threw in some pinto instead. My boyfriend also loved it and practically ran back for seconds (he added a little cayenne to his for a spicy kick). I’ll be saving this recipe to make again and again. Thank you!

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25 Marie May 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

Made this recently and just wanted to let you know it was a big hit at my house. The leftovers are great too!

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26 Arnold August 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm

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