I have had a huge jar of pearl barley on my kitchen counter for around 5 years.

I look at it on a regular basis and think, “I must use that for something”, when I probably should be thinking, “I am going to throw that away.”  But here comes Susan Saint James’ adaptable recipe for a pearl barley thing.  I’ve used up 1/2 cup of it, plus lots of veggies, so I am feeling very smug.

Plus, it’s another recipe tested for the forthcoming Cooking the Detectives book.  Yippee!

Can anyone tell me where I can get a jacket like that? I have a feeling SSJ’s character in McMillan & Wife had matching trousers too.  Oh yes!  Look!

She looks so fabulous in this show…

This dish was a lot tastier than I was expecting, but I admit, I did add quite a lot of Worcestershire sauce after it came out of the oven.  It’s the type of recipe you can use as a template.  You can bung in whatever veggies you have around the place, and as long as you have the same ratio of barley to liquid, you’ll be grand.

On night one, there was quite a lot of liquid, and it was almost like a very thick soup. But I left the casserole dish in the oven overnight, and the barley continued soaking up the liquid, getting really plump.  There was something strangely pleasing about that.

It was also very pleasing on day 2 to fill a pepper with some of the mixture and leave it in my teeny-tiny slow cooker for a few hours and then have it for dinner.

Do you get the feeling that I’m very pleased with myself about all this pearl barley business?  I’ll probably make Susan’s recipe a few times over the next 5 years, mucking around with replacing the water with stock, adding some herbs or some spices, or something else that needs using up.  Then eventually, that jar will be EMPTY, and I’ll do a victory dance around the kitchen.  It will look a bit like this…

Oh, hold on! I’ve just had a look at the movie star recipe spreadsheet, and Dinah Shore has THREE recipes using pearl barley.  Maybe I’ll get through it in less than 5 years?!

Internet legend has it that Susan Saint James demonstrated this dish on the Phil Donahue Show.  The person who posted it on the ThriftyFun website wrote, “This dish goes great with her fire & ice salad & toasty French bread.”  Alas, I couldn’t find her recipe for fire & ice salad. Here’s the barley one, though. I made half of this recipe, and I would say there were 3-4 portions, so the whole shebang will make a LOT.

Susan Saint James’ Barley Casserole

1 cup pearl barley
3.5 cups water
2 t. veg. oil
1 onion diced
4-5 carrots sliced
4-5 tomatoes chopped1 bell pepper diced
1/2 to 3/4 t. oregano
Salt to your taste

Bake in a covered casserole dish at 350 for one hour. Stir after 45 min. add grated cheddar cheese when serving.

Why not have a cup of herbal tea afterwards?


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