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Barley and Spring Greens

 
Canola oil spray
3/4 cup chopped onions
1 fennel bulb, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
1-3 cloves garlic (or to taste), finely chopped
3/4 cup thin slices of red, orange, and/or yellow bell pepper (about 1 medium)
1 cups pearl barley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried marjoram
4-5 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup spinach leaves, torn into pieces
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. finely-chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Generously coat a large heavy pot with spray oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fennel and sauté until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add oil and heat until hot. Add the garlic and bell peppers and sauté lightly for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in barley, thyme, marjoram and broth. Bring to a boil, immediate reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid is almost absorbed, stirring occasionally, 40 to 50 minutes or until barley is tender. Midway through the cooking process, add salt and pepper to taste.

When barley is cooked, add spinach, cheese and basil. Stir to blend and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, to taste.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 172 calories, 3 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 32 g. carbohydrate, 7 g. protein, 7 g. dietary fiber, 464 mg. sodium.

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