Barely meat barley salad

Barley is a new experience for me. I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up a pack from the store. It’s not something I ever remember eating, but I remembered seeing a container of barley at my brother’s place a long time ago. Coming across it this time I thought it was about time I tried it.

Once home, I didn’t really know what to do with it, so I looked up what others have done to get some ideas. I was originally thinking of making something like the quinoa salad with it, but then I saw that many people used it in stews and soups. I decided to use a handful of the ingredients people used in stews, but make it dry instead of soupy. And I had a cut of steak that I had to use, so let’s bring some meat to this party.

Does the title of the post qualify as a pun?

Filling and tasty, but yet at the same time not heavy.

This dish was surprisingly simultaneously both light and filling–which fortunately was what I was going for. I didn’t feel like I had eaten a lot, but I was quickly sated. I cooked the barley in beef broth to give it more body and flavor. I also tossed in some mushrooms for some extra depth and the asparagus provided a bit of sharp vegetable-y contrast. A few ounces of steak also helped fill out the meal and give a sense of eating something a bit more… well… meaty.

You don’t need much steak at all though, I like to think of the steak as an accent to the barley salad rather than as the main attraction. My roommate and I actually split one strip steak and still had a bit left over. I suppose we could have finished off the rest, but neither of us actually felt hungry for more afterwards. I suppose that meant that I accomplished my goal. *pats self of the back*

This recipe isn’t complicated to make either. One large pot for all the vegetables. One small pot to cook the barley. One skillet to sear the steak. And everything can be done in the time it takes the barley to cook.

If you come over, I'll cook it the way you like it though.

I often prefer my steak more on the rare side of medium-rare. Just wanted to throw that out there before anybody thinks it's undercooked. It's exactly how I like it.

Barely meat barley salad
Serves 4 (I only prepared one steak because I was making it for two people. The leftovers went into the fridge and I’ve been eating those without any more steak. It’s fine on it’s own.)
1 pint sliced cremini mushrooms
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into no larger than 1-inch segments
1 cup barley (pearled barley)
2 1/2 cups beef broth (low sodium is preferred)
1 small steak (flank, skirt, whatever you like)
olive oil
salt, pepper

1. Rinse the barley several times in cold water until the water runs fairly clear.
2. Bring 2 1/2 cups beef broth to a boil in a medium pot. Add the barley and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 40-45 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
1. Place a large pot over medium heat. Add about 2 tsps olive oil and then the chopped onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot and cook for 10 minutes more. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 15 minutes more. Add the asparagus and cook for about 5 minutes more. (Stir occasionally during this entire process.)
2. Add the cooked barley and mix everything in the large pot.
1. Place a skillet with a base large enough to hold your steak over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the steak. Add about 1 tsp of olive oil to the pan. Add the steak and allow to cook 3-6 minutes until it is nicely seared. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steak. A good rule of thumb for a medium to medium-rare steak is to cook it, without flipping, until you see juice rise from the top of the steak. Note about how long it took to do that, then flip the steak over and cook for that same about of time. If you need more precision, use a probe thermometer: medium-rare is 130-135 F, medium is 140-145F.
2. Remove the steak to a (warmed) plate and cover with foil. Allow to rest for the juices to settle for about 3 minutes, then cut into strips.
I broke out every other step into a category, so why not this one?
1. Pile the barley salad onto a plate and set the steak strips over the top.
2. Serve with a full-bodied red wine :)

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