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Barley Pilaf & Couscous Recipes with Chef Drew

If you’re looking for some new dishes while you cook at home no worries, chef Drew is back with more recipes. Last week we posted a few soup recipes to help you clear out the back of your pantry. This week we have a barley pilaf with some grilled vegetables and two variations of couscous – the food so nice they named it twice.

As we’ve said before, cooking can be a great activity for the whole family. When you’re in the kitchen don’t sweat the small stuff, have fun with the recipe and get creative.

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[section title=”Barley Pilaf w/ Herbs and Grilled Vegetables“]

Notes from Drew: “This dish can use just about any veggies you have laying around, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have exactly what is called for. I love this dish served hot or cold. If I serve this as a cold salad, I frequently top it with toasted almonds and fresh goat or feta cheese. This recipe was adapted from ‘The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook’ by America’s Test Kitchen.”

For the Barley Pilaf:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups diced onion
  • 1 ½ cups pearl barley
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh or dried chives
  • 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Grilled Vegetables:

  • 1 whole carrot cut in half lengthwise
  • ½  zucchini cut in half lengthwise
  • ½  yellow squash cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 stalk of celery
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Add the onion and salt then cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the barley, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the water, increase the heat and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Put a clean kitchen towel in between the pot and the lid and let the dish sit for 10 minutes.
  4. On your outdoor or indoor grill (or cast-iron skillet): Heat the grill to high.
  5. Carefully place your cut vegetables on the grill and grill for 2-4 minutes on each side. I grill them until I get nice grill marks and the vegetable starts to show a good char on the outside. I grill the carrots a bit longer than the rest, maybe 5-6 minutes.
  6. Once you pull them from the grill put them in the fridge for a few minutes, just until they are cool enough to handle. Then dice the veggies.
  7. Add the grilled veggies and remaining ingredients to the barley and gently combine. Adjust seasoning with Salt and Pepper as needed.

[/section][section title=”Moroccan Couscous“]

Notes from Drew: “I love to serve this with roasted or grilled chicken or fish. I spice my chicken or a nice filet of fish with a generous amount of Za’atar (an Israeli spice blend) lemon zest and juice, and olive oil then serve right over the top of this couscous. For a vegetarian option: add cooked crumbled vegetarian breakfast sausage to couscous. I often add my dried herbs and spices into a dish as the vegetables are being sautéed. This gives the spice an opportunity to release its essential oils throughout the dish early in the cooking process and you will get the full effect of the herb/spice’s flavor. Be careful when using Turmeric, as it can stain your skin and/or clothing”

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups couscous (not Israeli-style)
  • 4 cups carrots, peeled and chopped fine (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 ½ cups onions, chopped fine (about 1 onion)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced (or if you have a can of roasted red peppers, dice and add them)
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 ¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained of the brine and rinsed in a colander
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat half the oil in a medium to large stockpot over high heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes until the couscous begins to brown. Transfer to a bowl, wipe the pot clean.
  2. Heat the remaining half of the oil back on the high heat. Add the vegetables (except the peas) and season with Salt and Pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes stirring often. Stir in the garlic and dried herbs and cook an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, add the chickpeas and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
  3. Stir in the couscous and peas, stir once, cover and remove from the heat. Let the dish stand for 7-10 minutes until the couscous is tender and the liquid is fully absorbed. Add the parsley or coriander and fluff with a fork.  Season with salt and pepper as needed. I drizzle a little freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil over the top right before I serve this dish.

[/section] [section title=”Cumin and Coriander-Infused Couscous“]

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3 cups water-boiling
  • 1 tablespoon chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine-melted
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small pot or saucepan, combine the water and chicken base and bring to a rapid boil. Remove from heat.
  2. Immediately add the couscous, cover, and let stand for 5-7 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients, then carefully fold them into the couscous.


The man behind the meals: Drew Brown is the Director of Food Service at the J. He is a graduate of Cincinnati State, The University of Cincinnati, and received his Master’s degree from The College of Mount Saint Joseph. He is the Chef-Owner of Spice Spice Baby Cincinnati, and his recipes have won multiple awards in cooking competitions around the Tri-State. Drew is the Founder of Avon Miami Charities, a charity that prepares and distributes more than 10,000 meals a year to local homeless shelters.

– Cam Engel, Copywriter

Cross training. Young woman exercising with dumbbells.

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