Serves 8 / Fiber-rich barley provides lots of volume for relatively few calories. In this recipe, its mild nutty flavor combines deliciously with high-fiber vegetables and herbs.
1 cup barley 3 cups water Pinch of salt 1 teaspoon olive oil 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach leaves 1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots 1/4 cup chopped raisins 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper 1/4 cup chopped red onion 1 egg white 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley 1 teaspoon dried oregano Freshly ground black pepper 8 small to medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, tops sliced off, seeds removed 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1. Combine barley and water in a medium saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50–60 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Cool.
2. Preheat oven to 400°. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and spinach. Toss to coat spinach evenly. Add pine nuts and mix again. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.
3. In a large bowl, combine spinach mixture with cooked barley, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, apricots, raisins, bell pepper, onion, egg white, parsley, oregano, and pepper. Mix well.
4. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place peppers, cut-side up, on baking sheet; stuff with barley-spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Place on middle rack in oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.
5. While peppers are cooking, heat vinegar in a small saucepan until boiling; reduce heat to medium-high and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour vinegar over peppers before serving.