If you’ve made your own sauerkraut, you’re probably looking for recipes that do it justice. And even if you’ve never dreamed of making sauerkraut, you may have its taste on the tip of your tongue in mid-winter. It’s essential to several traditional holiday dishes. In Slovak homes, the meatless Christmas Eve dinner features a soup of sauerkraut and dried mushrooms. Pennsylvania Dutch families celebrate the New Year with a good-luck combination of pork and sauerkraut which may also feature onions and applesauce. Here’s an easy and inexpensive casserole recipe which takes its inspiration from dishes like these.

About Barley

According to Wikipedia, Barley is a grain that looks similar to rice, and can be used like rice in soups and casseroles. However, it has a nuttier flavor and a heartier, stick-to-your-ribs texture. Preparing barley takes more liquid and more time than preparing rice. As barley cooks it releases some of its starch into the liquid, so it is wonderful for thickening soups. For casseroles, cook it until all the water is absorbed. The starch and flavorings will be reabsorbed as well.

 

Look for barley where you find dry rice and beans. The hull (called bran or malt) adheres very tightly to the barley grain and is removed by an abrasive polishing process called pearling. Unpolished grains are sold as whole barley. Scotch barley has been pearled three times. Pearl (also called pearled or light) barley has been polished six times, removing most, but not all of the malt.

This recipe calls for pearl barley because it is the type most widely available. And, although pearling does remove a percentage of the nutrients, a cup of raw pearl barley still contains about the same amount of protein as a cup of raw brown rice or whole wheat flour. If you want to substitute another type of barley, use the same amount of stock, but allow some extra time; it may take longer to cook.

Barley and Sauerkraut Casserole with “Sausage”

  • 1 cup (250 ml) pearl barley
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sliced onions
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced, including leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups (500 ml) drained sauerkraut
  • 1quart ( 1 L) stock, beef OR vegetarian
  • 4 sausage patties, cooked and drained, OR meatless breakfast patties

Layer the first four ingredients into a 2 1/2-quart (2.5 L) casserole dish with a cover, starting with the barley and ending with sauerkraut. Place the sausage patties on top and stick the bay leaf in at the edge where it will be easy to see. Gently pour in the stock. Cover and bake at 400 F (200 C) degrees for about 2 1/4 hours, until all the liquid is absorbed. Before serving, remove the bay leaf, break the sausage into small pieces, and stir to mix the layers. Serve hot.

Serves 4-to-6 as a hearty main dish

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