Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pre-Race Meal

My husband is racing on his bicycle tomorrow and I made this dinner for him. I don't think he enjoyed it as much as I did (and there's no photo but it looked pretty) but it's nutrient rich with whole grains, leafy greens, and lean protein.

I tend to overcook chicken so lately I'm liking it best when we grill. This marinade is a variation on something I cut out of a magazine 6 or 7 years ago called "Curry Grilled Chicken." The curry flavor is subtle - if you like more curry, double up on it.

For the side dish, I was trying to find a way to use up some barley I bought for soup a few months ago. This worked well and I liked eating something different than rice but the texture is chewier and it's denser. I might try Nicole's suggestion of soaking whole grains next time I make this. I would also eat this as a meatless main dish (probably 2 servings with these proportions). In general, for brown rice, cous cous, quinoa and other grains I have found that using some kind of broth in place of the water makes a big difference in the flavor.

Marinated Grilled Chicken ala Rebecca (4 servings)

1/2 c. vinegar (I usually use white wine vinegar)
1/4 c. ketchup
2 T sugar
1 T worcestershire
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
red pepper flakes to taste (I think I used about 2 tsp+ but I like it spicy)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients (except chicken) in a blender and blend for a few seconds. Pour it into a shallow glass container or a large ziplock bag and add the chicken. Refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Discard marinade and grill until the chicken is done.

Pearl Barley with Vegetables (4 side dish servings)

1 tsp. olive oil
3/4 c. chopped onion (about 1 small)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 c. uncooked pearl barley
1 3/4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 zucchini, chopped
1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup of packed fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic clove and saute for 30 seconds. Add the barley and saute for a minute. Add the broth, bring to a boil then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, parsley, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes more.

Variations: You could saute half of a red bell pepper with the onion in the first step, add more vegetables, add various other fresh or dried herbs, sprinkle cheese on top. I had some feta and I liked it on top of the finished barley.

PS - This was even better cold the next day . . . I bet it would be great if you served it like pasta salad.

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