When I first saw the theme for this month’s Recipe Redux challenge, I was pretty excited. I love educating my clients and audiences on how make a quick “emergency” meal with pantry and freezer staples. The theme is “spring clean your pantry” where we were instructed to use at least 3 ingredients that are actually in your refrigerator or pantry right now. Try not to go to the store to buy anything new. Since I always want quick meals on hand, this Italian barley with broccoli and beans came together without too much thought or recipe testing!
How to Build a Balanced & Easy Pantry Meal
What do you need to have on hand to build a quick healthy meal? No matter if it’s entirely from fresh whole foods or if it’s shelf stable, my formula is always: starch, quality protein, vegetable or fruit, fat and flavor. This ensures you’re getting the energy sources and nutrients you need for optimal health and physical performance as well as satisfaction and fullness.
For this to extend to your “pantry”, notice that shelf stable goes past your pantry. I always tell my clients to keep: shelf stable starches, legumes, and frozen veggies around. On top of that, you want to have fat sources and flavor, which in this case simply come from olive oil and dried spices.
Often, I prep beans from dry, but I like to have a few cans of beans around, too for these “emergency” meal situations. Just rinse and drain before adding to your dishes and you’ll remove much of the sodium in there that many people fear. While farro is usually my go-to grain for it’s texture, flavor and ability to help me feel full, variety is important and barley is fiber and protein rich, too.
Need More Easy Pantry Meals?
If you’re often finding yourself without time to head to the grocery store, and you’re relying on pantry items, you’re in luck because close to 100 other reduxers posted pantry meals with this challenge, too. Click the link at the end of the post and add your favorites to your grocery list so you’re never left without a healthy meal minutes away!
Italian Broccoli, Barley and Beans
- 1 bag quick cook barley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 med shallot, diced optional
- 1 16 ounce bag frozen broccoli
- 1-2 cans white beans rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- Cook barley according to instructions. Quick cook varieties, such as Trader Joes and Whole Foods 365 brand should be done in 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a cast iron or other sauce pan over medium before adding shallots if you have them. Add broccoli to the pan along with all seasonings and stir. Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring 4 minutes in.
- Add the drained beans to the pan, stir well, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Once cooked, mix all ingredients together in a large serving bowl.
- Topping suggestions: drizzle with an extra tbsp of olive oil, and sprinkle 1/4 C hemp seeds and 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper over top.