Here's a great example of how to cook a healthy dish in minutes -- simply cook the bacon in the same pan as the barley to enrich the flavor, add some purchased cooked shrimp, a few aromatic vegetables, and you've got dinner (or a hearty potluck dish) in no time flat.
3 strips bacon, chopped
1 1/3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup quick-cooking barley
1 pound peeled cooked shrimp (21-25 per pound; thawed if frozen), tails removed, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup finely diced red onion
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1. Cook bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until crispy, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel; discard fat.
2. Add water and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Add barley and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Combine shrimp and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the cooked barley; toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the barley to absorb some of the lime juice. Add tomatoes, onion, cilantro and the bacon; toss to coat. Add oil and pepper and toss again. Stir in avocado and serve.
To Make Ahead: Prepare without avocado, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Stir in the avocado just before serving.
Makes 4 servings, 1¾ cups each.
Active Minutes: 40
Total: 40 minutes
Per Serving: 393 calories; 18 g fat (3 g sat, 11 g mono); 228 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 7 g fiber; 671 mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (50% daily value), Fiber (29% dv), Iron (25% dv), Folate (15% dv).
The best thing about tofu -- besides its nutritional value -- is the way it carries other flavors, such as the tanginess of this sesame dressing. Serve this warm salad with crunchy breadsticks and a tall glass of iced jasmine tea.
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce package extra-firm, water-packed tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 cups mixed salad greens
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 large cucumber, chopped
1. Whisk canola oil, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and salt in a bowl.
2. Place tofu and 2 tablespoons of the dressing in a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes total. Remove from the heat, add 1 tablespoon of the dressing to the pan and stir to coat.
3. Toss greens, carrots and cucumber with the remaining dressing. Serve immediately, topped with the warm tofu.
To Make Ahead: The dressing (Step 1) will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Whisk just before using.
Makes 4 servings.
Active Minutes: 25
Total: 25 minutes
Per Serving: 237 calories; 16 g fat (2 g sat, 8 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 5 g fiber; 454 mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (180% daily value), Folate (41% dv), Vitamin C (38% dv), Calcium (29% dv).