Did You Know? Mushrooms will double in size every 24 hours, so a Portabella is not that much older than a Cremini!
Stuffed fruits and vegetables are great additions to any vegetarian meal. This particular dish has flavors both sweet and savory, and would be a great side on your Thanksgiving table. The mushrooms and barley provide a meaty base, while the cranberries offer a slight tartness. The apple's sweetness balances the dish as a whole. I serve half an apple as a side, but a whole apple would be a great alternative entree for any vegetarian or vegan guest. Feel free to add baked tofu, or substitute any of your favorite nuts.
4 sturdy apples (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith...)
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 ounces mushrooms (I used button)
1 small onion, diced
3/4 cup barley
1 2/3 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and Pepper
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, and let sit for a few minutes, without stirring, so they can brown. Add onion, salt, and pepper, and saute a few minutes longer until onion is translucent. Add barley and toast for a couple minutes. Stir in broth and cranberries, and season to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350.
Slice apples in half lengthwise, and remove core and some of the flesh with a small spoon. Use a fork to prick apple a few times so they don't explode. Before placing in a baking dish, cut a small slice off the bottom of each apple half so they do not wobble in the dish. Place in a baking dish.
When the barley mixture is ready, stir in the nuts. Using an ice-cream scoop, mound barley on top of apples. Pack any leftover mixture in between the apples in the dish. Pour a little water (1/4-1/2 cup) in the baking dish, and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more.