In the few days leading up to my wedding, clean eating is the name of the game. In stressful times, I tend to do a little stress eating, so I’ve been working hard to keep the stress low, the food clean, and the workouts beast.
Tomorrow one of my best friends arrives from England. She’s English (duh), but we met as teachers almost 10 years ago in China! That adventure has bonded us together for life. I can’t believe how the time flies, and how lucky I am that we are still close. I just can’t wait to have her here and start the celebrations.
I’m also thrilled to celebrate is the return of fall produce! I LOVE fall produce. Apple picking, pumpkin picking, the greens, the cinnamon and cloves… it’s a beautiful time.
I usually get little gifts from students through out the year – little paper notes, art projects, Pokemon cards – but this past week was a first. One of my students, and adorable little boy, walked into class one morning struggling to carry a giant bag of apples he picked over the weekend for me! The jubilant look on his face was precious.
A pie and a tart later, I was contemplating a side for roasted cabbage. The lone apple left in my fruit basket was calling my name.
This meal is made up of things I always have in my house, except for the cabbage that is. I always have dried cranberries and sliced almonds; I use them in the little salads I make for myself for after work everyday so I don’t come home ravenous. I always have apples, especially in the fall when they are plentiful and in season and so delicious. Lemon, yes, but limes absolutely. Bacon is a given – I have several packs in my freezer to avoid a moment without. And, the less likely contender, barley!
We’ve been cultivating barley for 13,000 years, yet I feel like people never talk about barley. Barley is GREAT, though it does take considerably longer to cook than brown rice. Twice the time, actually. But with that high fiber, all those vitamins, and the fact it’s so low on the glycemic index, it is a wonderful substitute for rice. It’s adds a texture and nutty taste to dishes that I love.
Make sure to leave enough time for the barely to cook. The rest of the meal comes together in 30 minutes, but you might need an hour more just to get the barley cooked! Keep an eye as it simmers as well – I found I needed to keep adding water, a few tablespoons at a time, intermittently during the cooking.
This dish is almost vegan… almost. It’s that bacon that disqualifies the plate. While I don’t eat much bacon, I do like to use a piece to add flavor to my mostly vegan diet, which I categorize as plant-strong. Other plant-strong dishes include Warm Kale Salad & Wasabi Vinaigrette, Summer Sweet Potato Noodles & Roasted Poblano Cream, and this Grilled Portobello Salad & Roasted Poblano Cream.
Roasted Cabbage & Bacon Barley PilafPrint Recipe
- 1 head of green cabbage
- 1 apple, preferably Pink Lady or MacIntosh
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 6 pieces of maple bacon
- 1/2 cup dry barley
- 1 tablespoon stone ground dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
First, cook the barley. In a small sauce pan, add dry barley and 1 1/2 cups water. Salt and cover. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, still covered. Simmer for about one hour or until barley is tender, adding water a few tablespoons at a time as needed while cooking.
About 30 minutes into the barley cooking time, preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the cabbage in half, and then cut each half into three equal sized wedges. Grease a cookie sheet. Toss each wedge in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast to the cabbage for 15 minutes, remove from oven and flip, then roast an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Cabbage should be crispy around the edges.
While the cabbage is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on top of a paper towel. Lower the heat on the pan.
Peel, core and chop the apple into about 1 inch cubes. Add to the hot pan and sauté, scraping up the bacon bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat.
Prepare the vinaigrette. Combine the honey, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil and a slow drizzle, whisking constantly. Salt-and-pepper to taste.
When the barley has finished cooking, remove from heat and place into a large bowl. Add the apples, crushed bacon, almonds and cranberries.
Serve each cabbage wedge with a side of the salad, and drizzle the honey Dijon vinaigrette over everything.