Figs, Barley And Bow-tie Pasta-a Tasty Trio

Figs, the new darling of the culinary world, partner well with a wide variety of foods because they offer a sweet, delicate taste, an enviable nutrition profile and year-round availability. Both varieties-Golden Figs, with their light nutty flavor, and Black Mission Figs, with their sweet, subtle taste-are at home in desserts, entrées and side dishes.

In Barley and Bow-Tie Pilaf, figs join whole grain barley and pasta for a fiber-rich side dish that can also be served as an entrée or next-day lunch. Both figs and barley contain soluble fiber, a compound that may help reduce the risk of heart disease. This easy recipe provides 6 grams of dietary fiber in a three-quarter-cup serving-a significant amount. Adults 50 years old and younger should consume 38 grams (men) and 25 grams (women) of fiber per day; adults over 50 should consume 30 (men) and 21 (women) grams per day. Many of the diseases of public health significance-obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes-could be prevented or treated by increasing the amount and varieties of fiber-containing foods. You can enjoy dried figs as a nutritious, convenient snack or recipe ingredient.

Barley And Bow-Tie Pilaf With Figs, Lemon And Thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup pearl barley

11/4 to 11/2 cups chicken broth

8 ounces bow-tie pasta

1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Mission or

Golden figs, stemmed and halved or quartered

1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds, walnuts or pecans (optional)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

11/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Salt, to taste (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden. Add barley; stir for 11/2 to 2 minutes to toast. Add 11/4 cups chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 35 minutes. Add figs (and remaining broth if needed), cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, cook pasta as package directs. Drain pasta and turn into serving bowl. Toss with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in cooked barley and figs, nuts, thyme, parsley, lemon zest and salt. Serve warm. Makes about 6 cups (8 servings).

Nutrients per serving (3/4 cup): Calories 248 (15 percent calories from fat); Protein 6 g; Total Fat 4 g (Saturated Fat 1 g); Carbohydrate 47 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Dietary Fiber 6 g; Sodium 160 mg.

Entrée Variation: Stir in 1/2 pound browned lean turkey or chicken sausage chunks.

Leftover Lunch: Toss chilled pilaf with your favorite salad dressing and serve in a cantaloupe or bell pepper half. Or spoon into whole grain pita bread for an on-the-go lunch.

This fiber-rich side dish doubles as an easy entrée or next-day lunch.

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About The Author, Stacey Moore
For more recipes featuring dried figs, as well as nutrition information, visit www.valley