Most of my plans to eat healthy get messed up in the office cafeteria.  Usually I wind up either a.) grabbing a grilled cheese sandwich (not healthy!) out of desperation, b.) having soup, a salad, or a smoothie, and then I’m hungry again an hour later and searching for unhealthy snacks like leftover cake from another team’s birthday celebration, or c.) leaving the office and grabbing a more expensive, calorie-laden meal somewhere down the street.  What I need is an arsenal of easy, yummy, healthy recipes to inspire me to pack my lunch.  Here’s the first one I added to my lunch-time repertoire: Barley Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, Scallions & Baked Tofu – and it only has FIVE ingredients!

Featured in the January 2009 Vegetarian Times magazine, this recipe uses frozen corn and suggests serving it warm.  I’ve made it that way before, and WOW is it good – the warm barley and tomatoes are so flavorful and comforting.

To Summer-ize this recipe, I swapped in fresh cornright off the cob – and served it cold for a refreshing salad bursting with summer corn and tomato flavors.

First, cook the Barley according to package directions. While it cooks, you have time to chop the veggies and cook the corn.

I didn’t use quick-cook Barley like the recipe suggests, so I also had time to do a few chores while it cooked.

 

My lazy cooking method

Next, (unless you are using frozen), prepare the corn!  You can boil it as per traditional methods, or check out this great post from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen with instructions for roasting it or microwaving it.

Until I read that post, I had no idea that I could microwave corn on the cob!  Now that I know this, I am sure I will be making corn much more often.  As a lazy girl, of course, this is the route I chose.

Fresh Corn…Fresh out of the microwave!

Corn on the Cob: the Microwave Method:

 

Sautee Scallions, Corn, and Tomatoes until the tomato skins are no longer taut.

 

Next, sauté the veggies in a sprayed non-stick skillet over medium heat.  First add 4 chopped scallions to the pan for about a minute, then add the corn kernels for another minute.  Lastly, add a pint of halved cherry tomatoes and cook until their skins are no longer taut (about 3 to 4 minutes).  Season with salt & pepper if desired, then gently toss into the Barley.

 

 

Store-bought marinated baked tofu

If serving as a side-dish, you can stop here – with just 4 ingredients!  If you’d like to make it into a meal (as I did), the addition of store-bought marinated baked tofu is an easy, tasty way to get more protein into the dish.  Even if you don’t love tofu, you might be pleasantly surprised by the marinated and baked variety.  It is firmer and infused with great flavors such as tomato-basil, or simply ‘savory’, which pair well with this dish.

Simply cut the tofu into strips, and saute it in the same skillet that the vegetables were in until the tofu is lightly browned on each side. Then, cut it into cubes and toss it into the barley-veggie mix. Voila!

 

Lunch-time!

This salad can be enjoyed warm or cold, and it packs well – perfect for a brown-bag lunch at the office!

I paired it with a Chickpea-Salad sandwich the first day, but then realized it was hearty enough as a meal on it’s own for the rest of the week.

 

 

Barley Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, & Baked Tofu

Adapted from Vegetarian Times, January 2009

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup barley (quick-cooking is OK)
  • 4 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 2 cobs of fresh corn, cooked & cut (or 3/4 cup frozen corn)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz. seasoned baked tofu, such as tomato basil or savory, cut into planks about an inch thick.

Directions

  • Prepare the Barley: according to package directions and set aside.
  • Cook the Veggies:
    • Mist a large non-stick skillet with Olive Oil, and heat over medium heat. 
      • Add green onions, and cook 1 minute.
      • Stir in corn, and cook 1 minute.
      • Add tomatoes, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until skins are no longer taut. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Heat the Tofu:
    • Transfer the veggie mixture to a bowl with barley, and mix gently.
    • Heat same skillet over medium heat, and mist with Olive Oil.
    • Add tofu, and cook 1 minute per side, or until heated through.
    • Cut each piece into cubes. Toss together with barley & vegetable mixture.
  • Serve warm, or chilled!