Beef and Barley Stew

Oh, look. Another barley recipe! I don’t actually eat a lot of barley, but I absolutely adore it, and am always so excited to find low-calorie, delicious recipes with what is, hands down, my favourite grain.

Strangely enough, it’s never really occurred to me to cook it in my cast iron pot… I’m usually the goose standing in front of the stove for forty minutes at a time, stirring and adding bits of water at a time to stop it from sticking to the pan. Oh, sure, it’s a labour of love well worth the final result, but frankly, sticking it in the oven with slightly more water than I’d normally use is even better.

The combination of chilli and craisins is an absolute winner here, and lends to a sweet and spicy combo that really keeps things interesting. I know slow-cooking rump steak isn’t really the done thing, but I took the risk in hopes of keeping the recipe as low-cal as possible, and it worked. At 423 cals for a good-sized bowl, this stew is perfect for cooking the night before, ready to nourish and warm you up after a wintery evening of schlepping the kids to their various sporting commitments.

Serves 5

Ingredients

3 tsp olive oil

500g beef rump (don’t trim the fat), cubed

2 cloves garlic

1 onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

2-3 tsp Masterfood minced chilli

400g tinned tomatoes

1 1/2 cups beef stock

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup craisins

parsley, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160C. In a cast iron or other oven-safe pot with a tight lid, heat half the oil over medium-high heat on the stove, and brown the beef in batches and set aside.
  2. Heat remaining oil over low heat. Add onion and carrots, and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Stir in garlic and chilli, and mix for 1 minute to combine.
  3. Add beef, tomatoes and stock, and bring to a simmer. Transfer to oven and cook for 1 hour.
  4. Add barley and craisins, and bake for another hour, stirring occasionally to avoid the barley from sticking. Top with another half cup of water as you go, if necessary. (I found I don’t need to, but ovens are fickle and yours may vary).
  5. Either serve immediately, or allow to come to room temperature and then refrigerate. Reheat gently over a medium heat, topping with more water/stock if you find it dries out as it reheats. Garnish with parsley to serve.

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Cabbage and Barley Soup

I overdid it this Easter. Like, really overdid it. So much so that I woke up this beautiful Easter Monday feeling terribly ill and with a pain in my belly that my husband was convinced was my appendix getting ready to burst. It wasn’t. It was just my body in revolt from the shocking way I’ve “nourished” it over the past couple of days. I’d entered the long weekend knowing that my usual rules were going out the window, and had every intention of getting back to my usual routine today. It’s always destined to be a Monday, right? However, my body thought it would help me be damned sure that I did in fact get back into it, by making me sick to my stomach at the mere thought of food.

After a few hours of feeling like total crap, I slowly, slowly started feeling better. By late afternoon, I was actually starting to feel hungry.  I was craving vegetables and simplicity. But I also wanted a new-to-me dinner that was interesting, while not putting any stress on my somewhat ginger stomach. Nothing fatty, or rich, and in no way related to chocolate or cake.

Once again, I was relieved that I have an arsenal of recipes stored in My Fitness Pal, with the calories already calculated, links to the recipe, and my own adaptations noted. It REALLY makes life easier, especially when you don’t really have a clear idea of what you want. Scrolling through, I saw the link to Smitten Kitchen’s Cabbage and Farro Soup, and knew that I’d found what I’d be cooking tonight. I did make some changes – I added ginger, used red cabbage instead of green to give it a beautiful rich purple colour (Deb bemoans how beige her soup is, but using red cabbage yields quite a dramatic looking soup), swapped out the farro for the pearl barley I already had in my cupboard, and eliminated some of the oil, because you really don’t need quarter of a cup here. All in all, the results were fantastic, and I’m looking forward to leftovers tomorrow, when the barley has drunk the soup and it transforms into a whole new cabbage dish. I also used a whole – albeit tiny – cabbage, and discarded the core, as a matter of preference. That left me with more cabbage than the original recipe calls for, so I increased the ingredients by 150% , meaning it serves 6, rather than 4. Which is a blessing, because, like I said, leftovers. My take on the recipe yields servings of 222 calories each, and that includes the parmesan with which the soup is served.

Ingredients

1 x 3 second spray olive oil

1 brown onion, thinly sliced

3 tsp  minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

1 small red cabbage, core removed, thinly sliced

1.5tbs red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup raw pearl barley

6 cups chicken stock

1tbs lemon juice

4tbs grated parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan/stockpot over medium-low heat. Sweat onions for 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add garlic and ginger, and stir to combine.
  2. Add the cabbage over the top of the onion mixture and Cover pot with a lid. Steam the vegetables for 5 minutes, until cabbage starts to wilt. Stir to combine.
  3. Replace lid and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cabbage will be very tender, and sweet to taste.
  4. Stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Be very generous with the pepper, as it complements the dish so well. Add barley and stir to combine.
  5. Pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for up to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
  7. Serve in bowls. Top with parmesan cheese and another good crack of black pepper.

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