I grew tired of having spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce. So I havestarted to look for new pasta recipes. Flipping through Ellie Krieger’s new cookbook, So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week, I got immediately attracted to her Pasta Primavera. I loved the way she included a lot of vegetables in this dish and used a light creamy sauce to bind all the ingredients together. So, using her recipe as an inspiration, I created my own scrumptious, creamy Pasta Primavera with a twist!
The twist is the addition of barley — and hence, I have made a Pasta and Barley Primavera. Barley works really well in this dish. Its chewiness adds an additional texture, and the starch that it releases slightly thickens the sauce, giving it a richer, creamier mouthfeel. Plus, barley is a whole grain option, so adding in a handful will makes the dish more wholesome, healthy and delicious at the same time!
This recipe can be an absolutely brilliant way to incorporate more vegetables and whole grains into your diet. Plus, the creamy sauce made from chicken stock and low-fat milk will add richness to the dish without the need to add cream, which makes this sauce a much lighter and healthier option to the traditional fat-laden béchamel sauce. Pasta and Barley Primavera is the perfect dish for those days when you want a light, healthy pasta entrée that comes with a creamy, scrumptious flavour.
Pasta and Barley Primavera
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup pearl barley
- 2 oz whole grain whole wheat rotini
- A pinch of dried herbs (basil, oregano)
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1/4 cup frozen corn & peas
- 1/2 cup red cabbage, sliced into thin strips
- 1/4 cup white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Reserved pasta water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil. Add in barley and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, until barley are soft. Add in pasta and cook until al-dente. Drain pasta into colander, make sure to reserve some pasta water.
- In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil on medium heat. Add in garlic, shallot and celery, let them sweat. When fragrant, add in cabbage and red peppers. Saute until cabbage softens, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle in flour, stir well. Heat for an additional minute.
- Add in chicken stock and milk. Add in dried herbs and red pepper flakes. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until sauce thickens.
- Stir in corn, peas and white kidney beans. Add barley and pasta. Stir well and let heat thoroughly. Add a splash of pasta water to loosen up the sauce if necessary.
- Season with salt and pepper and garnish with Parmesan cheese before serving. Enjoy!