Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup uncooked barley (or 2 cups cooked barley or other grain)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup smalled-diced fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Barley-Stuffed Peppers

Amanda Freitag, photo by David Malosh
  • Serves: 4 people

This is an almost perfect dish for the home cook because it’s economical, healthy, and scrumptious! You can whip it up anytime you have leftover cooked barley, brown rice or quinoa from the night before. You could even reinvigorate a container of rice from last night’s Chinese or Indian takeout! For a carnivore’s take on this dish, add a cup of browned ground meat in place of 1 cup of the cooked barley or other grain.

Directions
  1. Cook the barley according to the package instructions. Transfer the barley to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and make sure the oven rack is positioned in the center.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and rippling, add half the mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper. Do not touch the pan!
  4. After 3 to 4 minutes, use tongs to flip one mushroom. If it’s not browned to your liking, give them another minute or two. When they’re ready, flip all the mushrooms and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked mushrooms to the bowl with the barley and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
  6. Add the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and the parsley to the bowl and stir to combine.
  7. Line the pepper halves cut side up on a baking sheet and season each with a pinch of kosher salt.
  8. Use a large spoon to divide the barley filling evenly among the pepper halves.
  9. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the filling is hot in the center and the peppers are tender, about 20 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle the peppers with the bread crumbs and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.
  • It’s important to let the mushrooms sear in this recipe. This is an old-school chef’s secret—leaving mushrooms alone in an uncrowded pan over high heat ensures that they sear rather than steam, and you end up with the most delicious mushrooms ever as opposed to sad, bland, spongy, soggy, greasy mushrooms.
  • Before adding any further seasoning to the mix, grab a spoon and taste! This is a very important step in cooking—tasting before seasoning—especially here, with two types of cheese involved, since cheese always lends saltiness to a dish. If you think it tastes great, then that’s perfect—stop there. You’re the chef and you’re in control, so trust your own palate when it comes to seasoning.
  • For added cheesy extravagance, you can also top each baked pepper with more cheese and place them back in the oven for 2 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and oozy.
  • The typical ratio for cooking barley is 1 part barley to 3 parts water or stock, but it’s different for quick-cooking barley, so read the package.
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