Saturday, March 21, 2009

Barley and sesame tofu stir-fry

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. To make this gluten-free, substitute rice for the barley.**

barley and sesame tofu stir-fry from Lorna Sass's Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way

Once again I found myself with a refrigerator full of random veggies and tofu, so I could feel a stir-fry coming on. I wanted to kick it up a notch, though, so I adapted a recipe from one of the cookbooks of the month.

Barley and sesame tofu stir-fry (adapted from "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way" by Lorna Sass)

1 cup barley
3 cups water
pinch salt

1/3 cup sherry
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 lb extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 small bunches of broccoli
5 oz. spinach

Bring water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add barley, and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer until barley is tender (about 35 min for pearl barley, or a little bit longer for hulled). Drain off any excess water and let barley steam in pot, covered, for 10 min.

While barley is cooking, mix sauce ingredients together (everything from sherry to red pepper). Pour 3 Tbsp of sauce over tofu, stir, and let sit while you prepare everything else. Heat peanut oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Add onion and cook a few minutes, until tender. Stir in broccoli and let cook until it is just starting to get tender, but is still somewhat crisp (about 5 min). Add barley, tofu, remaining sauce, and spinach. Stir well and cook just until spinach wilts. Serves 4-5.

I really enjoyed this stir-fry (even for breakfast!), and it was really nice to have some barley again. It's been quite a while, and the last time I had it the taste of fennel seeds was somewhat overwhelming and I developed a bad association between the two. Luckily that is now shattered.

While I enjoyed the sauce (which was quite a bit more involved than my usual stir-fry concoction of soy sauce and some garlic), the soy sauce definitely dominated. But, the red pepper snuck through in some bites, and that gave my mouth a nice surprise. Next time I might decrease the soy sauce and add more mustard and rice vinegar to see if I can get those flavors to shine through. I would also add more veggies next time (or decrease the barley), but unfortunately I didn't have any more on hand.

I'm still loving this cookbook, and I find myself flipping through it often to either figure out how to cook a grain in a different way or for recipe inspirations. Hmmm... I just realized that she has another book on whole grains. The last thing I need is more cookbooks, but I might not be able to resist. And if I ever get a pressure cooker (which probably won't be any time soon), I will definitely pick up some of her books on the topic.

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