I really like barley. It's so hearty and wholesome. It's great in soup . . . and also very flavorful in this casserole.
Barley Casserole would appear a lot more often on our table if I somehow had ready access at all times to fresh mushrooms. It's the only ingredient in this recipe that I don't always have on hand. (Hmmm, is there a mushroom farm in my basement in the future?)
1/2 cup butter
2 medium-ish onions, coarsely chopped
3/4 lb. sliced mushrooms
1-1/2 cups uncooked barley
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken or beef broth
Melt butter in a large skillet. If you don't have a really large (I'm serious here) skillet, you might want to use a big soup pot. (The skillet I use measures a little over 12" across.)
Add onions, mushrooms, and barley and saute until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Sprinkle with salt and a few good dashes of pepper. (I always use my homemade chicken or beef broth and it's not salty at all. If you use canned, you might want to reduce the one teaspoon of salt called for.) The above picture is what it will look like after it's sauteed for the 10 minutes.
Turn the whole mixture into a casserole dish, about 2-1/2 quart size, and stir in 2 cups of broth.
Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour. Uncover and bake until all liquid is absorbed, possibly 10 minutes.
It should look like this when ready to be served.
Serve in place of potatoes, rice or pasta.
The thing I really like about this casserole is that if there is any left over, it makes a GREAT base for soup. Add some more broth, veggies, left over chunks of meat, whatever seasonings float your boat and you have an easy pot of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs soup.
Addition to Original Post: This afternoon I made soup with the leftovers of this Barley Casserole. I had about a cup of good gravy in the refrig which I put in the bottom of a soup pot.
Stirred it over a low/medium heat until it was warm.
Added two cups of beef broth and the remainder of the casserole. (How much? Ummm, somewhere around 2 cups?)
Chopped a quarter head of cabbage (it was a small head) and half an onion, threw that in with a couple teaspoonsful of frozen chives.
Then added about a cup of precooked, chopped duck meat I had in the freezer. Let it all simmer for a couple of hours.
We had it for dinner tonight with a tossed salad and it was delish! Have plenty left over for at least one more meal.