Disaster Dinners Part 2 – Barley Sausage Skillet

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This is one of my all time favorite “disaster dinners”. Why is it a favorite? Let me count the ways. It’s infinitely flexible – you can pretty much put whatever you have  in it. It re heats wonderfully which means you can make a big batch, stash it in the fridge and microwave a bowl when you need it – a major plus when you are running an all night diner as I seem to be doing more and more these days. Oh, and did I mention that it has the creaminess of risotto without  all the stirring AND you make it in ONE pan??? Oh yeah – bet THAT got your attention!!!  So how do you  make this “perfect disaster” meal?? Read on my friends, read on!!

One Dish Barley Sausage Skillet
(adapted from Cooking Light)

2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup quick cooking barley (see note)
8 oz. turkey italian sausage, fully cooked chicken sausage, cut into 1/2 inch dice or cooked shredded chicken
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion, medium dice
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
2 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. Madeira wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped italian parsley or fresh basil

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook sausage, crumbling into bite size pieces. If using pre cooked sausage, saute sausage until browned.  When cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Add olive oil to pan and heat until oil shimmers. Add mushrooms and cook, without stirring until mushrooms are browned. Stir and brown on the other side. Remove mushrooms and set aside. Add onions and peppers to pan and cook over medium high heat until onions and peppers are tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add Madeira wine scraping up any browned bits. Add stock and then barley. Bring mixture to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until barley has absorbed all the liquid. Stir in reserved mushrooms and sausage (or chicken if using). Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in parsley or basil if using.
Note: Quick cooking barley can be found in some supermarkets and from natural food stores.
Variations: As I mentioned, this dish is very flexible. You could eliminate the peppers and add frozen, chopped spinach and top with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. For a meatless entry, add some sauteed tofu in place of the sausage or add a can of rinsed small white or garbanzo beans.
If quick cooking barley isn’t available, cook regular barley in stock and then add to the sauteed vegetables.

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