Broccoli Barley Casserole

Makes 9x13 casserole
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Cost: $5.00

4 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 C farro or barley
2 C vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 C water (for the barley I ended up using about 2 or 2 1/2 C)
1 C shredded Parmesan (2 oz)
2 heads broccoli
1 C spinach, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (these can be skipped if you don't have them; a dash of hot sauce might also do the trick)
1 14 oz. can or 1 3/4 C rehydrated white beans (I used Great Northern)
3/4 C Monteray jack cheese (the original recipe called for fontina, but we're living cheap here)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tsp of the oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add oil and cook onion until very lightly browned.

Sitr in barley (or farro) and cook until lightly roasted (about 2 minutes). Stir in the broth and water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering, uncovered, stirring often, until barley is tender and remaining liquid has thickened to a creamy sauce (about 20-25 minutes). (Note: When my liquid was nearly gone, my barley was still not done, so I added 1/2-1 C more water and cooked longer.)

Take off heat and stir in Parmesan. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.

While the barley is simmering, put the broccoli in a microwave proof bowl with 1/2 C water, cover it with plasic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. (Alternately, you can steam it on the stove.) Drain water off.  

In a new pot, add remaining oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minutes until sizzling. Stir in broccoli. Add spinach and stir for a minute until spinach wilts. Off heat, stir in beans and cooked barley. Taste again and adjust salt and pepper. (Note: I followed this step, but I bet you could simplify this whole thing by adding the garlic and red pepper flakes at the beginning after the onion had browned and then once the barley had cooked and you'd added the Parmesan, just throw the broccoli and white beans into the pot.)

Position oven rack 6 inches from broiler and heat the broiler. If you're using a Dutch oven, sprinkle with Montery jack and throw it into the oven. If not, put it in a broiler safe 9x13 inch pan, then sprinkle with cheese and broil it until lightly frowned, about 3-5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Posted by The Tasty Cheapskate