Barley Bistro Bowl

A grain bowl and a classic French bistro salad probably don't seem like a natural fit, but we love the way the egg yolk and garlicky tomato[-pepper sauce coat the barley in this hearty dish. We prefer to use hulled barley, because it has slightly more fiber and toothsome bite than its more refined cousin, pearled barley. But feel free to use pearled; the cooking time will be less. For quicker lunch or dinner prep, cook bulk batches of barley, freeze them in airtight bags for up to 1 month, then just thaw and reheat.]

Total Time:
1 hr 15 min
Prep:
10 min
Inactive:
10 min
Cook:
55 min

Yield:
4 grain bowls (about 1 cup barley each)
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • 1 cup hulled barley (not pearled)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons packed fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 small head frisee, torn into small, bite-size pieces
  • 2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
Directions
  • Make the barley: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the barley, and cook until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain well, transfer to a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The barley can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead. Microwave just enough to take the chill off, about 2 minutes, stirring about halfway through.)

  • Make the tomato-pepper sauce: While the barley cooks, blend the tomatoes, peppers, mayonnaise, tarragon, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. (The sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead.)

  • Make the bacon and breadcrumbs: Put the bacon in a large nonstick skillet, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings, and return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs, and stir constantly until golden and crunchy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl.

  • Fry the eggs: Wipe out the skillet, and melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to foam, crack all 4 eggs into the skillet, and sprinkle each with some salt. Cook the eggs until the whites have set and the yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

  • Build the bowls: Divide the barley evenly among 4 bowls. Top each with neat rows or piles of bacon, frisee, goat cheese, olives and sauce (leave room for the egg). Top each with an egg, some sauce and a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs.

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