PMB Recipe: Creamy Barley with Tomatoes and Greens

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Wow, this week has been almost a complete bust!

So I managed to get in my other “Picking My Battle” recipe this week, but it wasn’t until this afternoon for lunch! Wednesday just wasn’t happening…but I’m glad I at least managed to get it done. I was looking forward to trying this one out all week.

If you haven’t already noticed, I use a lot of Martha Stewart recipes, especially if I’m looking for something new. I don’t know why, but her recipes never fail – they always taste exactly how you’d expect, they’re consistent every time I make them, and I’ve never had a recipe outright fail on me.

This time, I went with Martha’s Creamy Barley with Tomatoes and Greens recipe because I’ve never had barley before and wanted to try it out. When it comes to starches in my family, they never strayed too far from the potato/pasta/bread trifecta. It has been fun learning to use new grains in my food…mostly because they all taste awesome!

The only substitutions I made from the original recipe was that I used spinach instead of mustard greens, mostly because I just don’t like mustard greens, and I swapped out the Taleggio for Mozzarella (again, just a taste preference thing). I also made a half recipe…because every Martha Stewart recipe I’ve ever made ends up enough for a crowd. So if you need to take something simple and tasty to a party or family gathering, a full recipe of this would be great!

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The recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoes, but a long time ago, Giada deLaurentiis taught me an easy trick for getting better canned tomatoes. Buy the whole ones instead! Companies will only use the better looking (and often better quality) tomatoes in the whole tomato cans, and leave the lower quality tomatoes for cans of diced tomatoes (I’m assuming because we can’t tell when they’re all chopped up). So you end up with better quality tomatoes for the same price. I’ve done this a few times, and they really are a bit better, especially if you buy the grocery store brand like me.

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Another trick I learned (I think from Nigella Lawson) is to take a CLEAN pair of kitchen scissors and cut up the tomatoes while they’re still in the can. It’s a lot less mess, and often faster than trying to chop up slimy tomatoes on a cutting board. As you can see below, they turn out looking like regular chopped tomatoes with almost no mess!

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Oh yeah, if you’ve never cooked with greens before, it’s going to look like you have way too much. Just shove that shit in there, wait a minute, and shove in some more. It’ll all cook down, I promise!

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While this is a lot more work than I usually do to make lunch, it was totally worth it. The barley was a great alternative to pasta, and by adding in the Parmesan and the mozzarella at the end, it ended up very creamy.

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After lunch, I decided to treat myself to one of my husband’s apples (he won’t notice, I’m sure) while catching up with some Jenna Marbles videos. It was just what I needed after a really long and stressful week at work.

I hope you’re all having a great Friday, and that you have a good weekend. I only have one more week of this challenge ahead of me, and I promise I’ll be better about getting posts up next week!

Also, if you have any ideas about what my “Picking My Battle” challenge should be for May, leave a comment! I have a few ideas, but since we’ll be on vacation for a week in May, I’m having a hard time finding something I can work around that. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated!

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