Creamy Barley Casserole

We enjoy casseroles a few times a month, I love how easy and filling they can be and I love that you can easily sneak a few veggies in for the kiddos. I am not super familiar with barley but I know that it's packed with nutrients and a healthier option than brown rice, and the texture is very similar to rice. This recipe is a great base for just about any casserole, you can add chicken, a variety of veggies, etc. My husband was surprised at how creamy and rich this dish was considering there was no cream in the sauce, he was also surprised to find out that the grain was barley and not rice. We've had a lot of fun experimenting with healthier recipes this month! Have fun with this recipe!

Creamy Barley Casserole
1 C. barley
3 C. vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 zucchini, grated (be sure to squeeze out the juice)
1 C. cooked or canned chickpeas
1/4 C. raw sunflower seeds
1 green onion, minced
*Cashew cream sauce
1/2 C. grated Parmesan (optional)

*Cashew Cream Sauce*
1 C. raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour before using
1 1/2 C. water
2 Tbsp. butter (vegan if desired)
1 Tbsp. corn starch
salt & pepper

-Blend all ingredients until smooth.

1. Cook barley, as you would rice, with the broth, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover & let simmer until liquid has absorbed - about 40 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 & spray an 8x8" baking dish with non-stick spray.
3. Once barley is cooked pour into baking dish and add zucchini, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and green onion. Mix well and make cashew cream sauce then pour into dish and mix well. Top with Parmesan.
4. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, broil for a few minutes to lightly brown the top, remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

-Serves 4-6.


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