I love barley, so much so that it is a totally fall ingredient that I have definitely eaten during the summer. In the words of Icona Pop, I don’t care, I love it.
Now that it’s officially barley season, though, I was so excited to find a new, fun way to use it. In an Italian casserole, no less.
The recipe my sweetie found online randomly from Better Homes & Gardens had all the right ingredients, but the amounts seemed way off, and it included mushrooms, ick. So, I took the ingredient list, sans “fresh button mushrooms,” and ran with my own amounts.
The recipe also called for dividing it into cute, tiny casserole dishes, and even if it weren’t for my Dutch oven theme, I can’t imagine dividing this into single-serve sizes. This is a casserole, dammit. It needs to be big, right?
I want to say I really thought about the proportions, but I really just threw in amounts that made the most sense (who uses a quarter of a package of sausage?!) and hoped for the best. It turned out pretty damn good, because it turns out it’s usually pretty hard to screw up a casserole. Even better, it made a lot more than the four single-serve dishes. A lot being like six servings.
I should note, however, that barley does take a long time to cook, so I recommend preparing in advance or making this dish on a weekend when you have more time.
Here’s what I did:
- 1 c. dry barley, cooked to package instructions (best prepared in advance)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 16 oz. Italian sausage, or other sausage (I love Beeler’s breakfast sausage so much that that’s what I used)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used the jar stuff, sorry)
- 2 c. tomato sauce (I actually used actual pasta sauce, and went for arrabbiata)
- 2 c. mozzarella, shredded, divided
- ½ c. Parmesan, shredded
- 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 (12 oz.) jar roasted sweet red peppers, chopped
- ½ c. pitted green olives, chopped
- Fresh basil, to taste
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, on the stove top, coat a large Dutch oven and heat over medium. Brown the sausage, stirring occasionally. Just before the sausage is cooked through, add the onions and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, and continuing to stir. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Remove from heat. Add in the cooked barley, pasta sauce, half the mozzarella, the Parmesan, the roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes, and basil to taste.
Cover the mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, take off cover, add the remaining mozzarella, and then continue to bake uncovered for about 10 minutes more until the cheese is melted. Add extra basil to the top before serving, if desired, and enjoy!