Tonight was the night! The maiden voyage of my new Crock Pot!!! Oh my God, I can't believe it's taken me this long to buy one! It makes life so easy!!! Anywho, I have been so overwhelmed for the past few days trying to decide what to make for it's inaugural meal. It was chilly today so I figured it needed to be something cozy and comforting. I've also been reading on blogs, and my new OBSESSION Pintreest (thanks, Lindsay!!!), that Mondays are supposed to be "Meatless Monday." With that said, what's better than mushroom barley!? It's hearty, it's healthy, and it's friggin delish!!! This was also my first time making it so I was a bit worried; I didn't want to mess anything up! So I took a little bit of Mama's recipe (which is to DIE for!) and some that I found online. I think it ended pretty well and with two very happy tummies :)
What you'll need:
1 qt. veggie broth
1 large onion
2 celery stalks (leaves, too!)
1 tbs. olive oil
1 lb. mushrooms (whichever you want!)
8 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 tbs. dried thyme
1 tbs. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup pearl barley
1 tbs. kosher salt
1 tbs. pepper
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
2. dried bay leaves
1. In a pot of 2 cups boiling water, add the dried mushrooms and set aside so they can plump back up OFF THE HEAT. (Once they're cooked, use CLEAN kitchen scissors to cut them into small-ISH pieces)
2. Heat 2 tbs. olive oil in a large sauce pan. As the mushrooms are gettin' their groove back, finely chop the onion and celery and sauté over medium heat, for about 4-5 minutes (don't let the onions brown). Do NOT add salt or pepper, there will be plenty in the rest of the meal.
4. Peel and chop the carrots to pieces about the size of dimes, smaller if you wish. Plop them into the crock pot.
5. Add the veggie broth, thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaves.
6. Finally, add the barley and mix everything well.
7. Set on low and let cook for about 8 hours. (Stir every so often, if you're home. If not, then don't worry!)
8. After 8 hours, turn off crock pot. It will get VERY thick, so don't worry if it looks a little watery even after 8 hours.
9. Serve in bowls garnished with parsley (parmesan if you're Daniel) and some crusty bread.