BARLEY, compared to brown rice is similar in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. The barley is slightly higher in salt while there is no sodium in the rice. But the real difference is that barley has about eight times more fibre than brown rice. I have not often cooked with barley as a substitute for rice, however after making this dish, I prefer the barley.
For vegetarians, the barley, mushroom and spinach pesto is an excellent main meal on its own.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes plus 30 minutes in fridge
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Makes: 2 - 3 servings
Ingredients For the lemon chicken 250 g chicken breast fillets
1 very small egg white, beaten slightly
1 tsp cornflour
½ tsp salt
Bit of grated ginger
About 2 tbsp oil
For the Lemon Sauce 1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp water
3 tsp castor sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup chicken stock
1 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp dry sherry
For the Barley with pesto 2 cups vegetable stock
Few basil leaves (optional)
20 g pine nuts, toasted
20 g Parmesan, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
60 g baby rocket
40 ml oil
100 g Swiss brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
100 g cup mushrooms, thickly sliced
½ leek, white part only, thinly sliced
¾ cup pearl barley
40 g sour cream
Parmesan, extra, to garnish (optional)
Method For the lemon chicken
Cut the chicken into about 1 cm wide strips.
Combine the egg white, cornflour, salt and ginger in a bowl and add the chicken pieces. Mix well.
Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil and coat the base and sides of a wok or frypan.
Take the chicken out of the marinade, add to the wok and stir-fry over a moderate - high heat until just cooked, but not browned.
Take the chicken out and keep warm while making the sauce.
For the lemon sauce
Mix the cornflour with the water to a smooth paste.
Add this to the wok with all the remaining sauce ingredients.
Stir over a high heat and boil for about a minute.
Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat it with the sauce.
Transfer it to a serving plate, and serve with the barley.
For the Barley with pesto
Mix the stock and 1 cup of water in a saucepan.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and keep at a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile, put the basil, pine nuts, about 15 g of Parmesan, 1 garlic, and half the rocket in a blender or food processor, and blend until it is chopped finely.
With the blender on, add 30 ml of the oil slowly until it is mixed. Add salt and pepper.
Heat the remaining oil on a high heat and cook the two lots of mushrooms, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the sliced leek and the remaining garlic to the pan and cook, stirring for 3 minutes or until the leek softens.
Add the barley and stir to mix.
Add a ladleful of the stock and stir to mix.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock is almost absorbed.
Add the remaining stock in batches, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Make sure you check that it does not boil dry. You may have to add a bit more water or stock if it is dry before the barley is cooked.
Add the mushrooms, half of the sour cream, and the remaining Parmesan, and stir to mix. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
Put the barley onto individual serving plates, and top with the pesto, the remaining sour cream, and extra Parmesan.
Serve with the lemon chicken and the remaining rocket.