Vegetarian Barley Moussaka

Photo courtesy Go Barley

Each month the Oldways Whole Grains Council features a different whole grain on their website, including information on its health benefits, cooking tips and recipes, historical/cultural facts, and more. Barley, one of my personal favourites, is this month’s pick.

I love its chewy texture, in all kinds of dishes from soups and salads to risotto and pilafs. Its stellar nutritional profile is besides the point.

According to the Oldways Whole Grains Council, barley is one of the world’s first cultivated grains, and appeared in traditional diets across the globe. It’s an example of the wisdom of the ages. In ancient Rome, gladiators ate barley for endurance and strength. But now it’s more commonly used for animal feed or used for making malt beverages such as beer.

We are getting smarter though as we look to the past and are now including more barley on our menus. Check out my post, 6 top reasons to love barley and other recipes on my website.

This recipe is from Go Barley, Canada’s barley producer website. You can also learn more about Canadian barley and where it’s grown along with lots of recipes.

The barley in the sauce gives a meat-like texture, and complements the flavour of the rainbow of vegetable layers. A rich-tasting ricotta cheese topping makes this dish simple to prepare and easy to love.

Vegetarian Barley Moussaka

2 large zucchini, cut into half-inch slices (about 10 slices)
1 large eggplant, cut into half-inch slices (about 8 slices)
1 medium-sized butternut squash, rind removed, cut into half-inch slices (about 16 slices)
2 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp dried basil leaves
¾ cup pearl or pot barley
2 14-oz (398 mL) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 14-oz (398 mL) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
14 oz soft 17% M.F. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Lightly grease two large baking sheets. Arrange eggplant, zucchini and butternut squash slices and roast 15 minutes, turning once, to soften slightly. Remove and set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, oregano and basil. Sauté until onion is transparent, about 3 minutes. Stir in barley and continue cooking, 3 to 4 minutes, to lightly toast grains.
Remove from heat. Stir in tomato sauce and tomatoes. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk ricotta, eggs and cinnamon until smooth. Set aside.

In a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, spread 1 cup barley tomato sauce. Arrange eggplant slices close together in a single layer; top with 1 cup sauce. Layer butternut squash slices tightly; spread with remaining sauce. Layer zucchini slices. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the zucchini.

Place baking pan on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Bake for 1 hour, until bubbly and browned on top. Remove and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings (1 ½ cups each).

Nutrition information per serving:
• Calories: 274
• Protein: 11 grams
• Fat: 8 grams
• Saturated fat: 4 gram
• Carbohydrate: 40 grams
• Dietary fibre: 8 grams
• Sodium: 107 milligrams

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Categories: Recipes, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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