I was shopping today and I looked at this little packet of side dish express. It was for 3 servings of flavored rice and"2 FULL SERVINGS OF VEGETABLES" for only a $1.29. That's insane! I never buy that stuff but just notice it as I grab my side dish staples: barley, beans and brown rice that reside in the same aisle. I used to be addicted to the cheap and easy crap like that but whoa after reading the ingredients lists and effectively doubling my family 6 years ago I can no longer justify it. I don't like additives I can't pronounce let alone verify it's actually a food. With a 15 year old boy in the house I would have to buy 3 of those just feed everyone. In my quest to stick to real food and stay within a reasonable budget I am constantly looking for side dishes that fit that order. Some easy favorites are rosemary potato wedges, Greek bulgur salad and this treasure I have been working on, curried barley.
Curried barely originally came from a fabulous recipe find on the Weight Watchers Core board called Smothered Chicken from Heather. Thanks for sharing! It involves chicken thighs, barely and assorted spices. The first time I made it everyone loved it but my kids complained that the chicken was slimy. The next time they would hardly eat it. They ate the barely but not the chicken. Our kids really do eat just about everything so when they start making serious noise, above and beyond the usual 'ewww yuck' I listen. I decided to remove the chicken and try it as a side dish to fake n bake pork chops. I changed the spices a few times and settled on curry powder. Yeah sure I can afford to buy those packets of crappy rice and VEGETABLES but why bother when recipes like this are so dang good and easy.
2 1/2 cups water
1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cups pearled barley rinsed
6 mushrooms sliced
1 green pepper chopped
1/ 2 onion chopped
Bring the water to a boil
add the tomatoes, salt and curry powder
return to a boil then add the barley and remaining ingredients
reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 40-45 minutes