Now that I’ve spent the last few weeks playing at being the devil. Tempting you. Luring you. Cajoling you into straying from your 10 in 10 or Weight Watchers or Atkins or whatever other diet/health revolution plan you’ve put yourself on (and you thought I was kidding about that Apple Strudel Bread being the real reason for Adam and Eve’s Fall. But I was there. Firsthand. Aiding and abetting.)

I’ve decided to atone for my sins. At least temporarily (i.e. for this post. Maybe for the next one. But after that it’s Valentine’s Day. And, what do you know! A little birdie told me that calories don’t count on Valentine’s Day. And by little birdie I mean venomous snake. Who has an uncanny resemblance to a certain reptile from a certain creation story that I may or may not have had an active role in precipitating. Eh, seems like a valid nutrition expert to me!)

This used to be a healthy food blog, after all. (Can you believe there actually was a time before those Guinness cupcakes?!?!) And probably could be again. If I didn’t love dessert quite so much.

Anyway. This dish? Is one that you can eat.

Guilt. Free.

At just around 400 calories a serving it is chock full of all sorts of good-for-you ingredients. Like bell peppers. Zucchini. And barley. While simultaneously containing. 1 POUND. Of ricotta. Part-skim ricotta. But ricotta nonetheless. (Got calcium?)

In short. It is creamy and delicious. You won’t even know you’re eating something healthy. Until, after a week of this, your skinny jeans start to fit again. At which point you can come back here and thank me. I’ll be waiting.
Cheesy Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Barley Bake
Serves 4, adapted from Seasonal Ontario

2/3 cup barley
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt

2 medium zucchini
3 red bell peppers
1 chili pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 egg
1 lb part-skim ricotta
1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese

1. Cook the barley in the water and salt until tender. You can either use a rice cooker (what I did) or cook it on the stove.

2. Preheat the oven to 350. Wash the zucchini and cut it into thick slices. Cut these in half. Wash the peppers, core them, and cut them into small dice. Mince the chili pepper.

3. Mix the ricotta with the egg.

4. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the zucchini and peppers until soft. Add salt along the way (a trick I learned from the Michael Symon cookbook. Salt at the beginning and at the end and at every step in-between. Just a little bit each time. It brings out the best flavor in things.). Add the basil, oregano, and black pepper.

5. Mix together the barley, zucchini/pepper mix, and ricotta/egg mix. Spread into an 11×7 pan. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the egg is set and cheese has melted. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut and eat.

I am submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted this week by Simona over at Briciole.

Also. If you just can’t get enough of me, check out my guest post over at Our Krazy Kitchen! On the first Saturday of every month, I am going to be hosting a column called Cooking The Italian Way, so be sure to check it out. This month’s post is on the holy trinity of Italian food – basil, tomato, and mozzarella!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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78 Responses to WHB – Cheesy Zucchini, Red Pepper and Barley Bake

  1. this looks AMAZING! i never thought to cook with barley that way!
    AMAZING. too bad i am not cool with the cheese. damn you digestive system.
    YAY SOMEONE ELSE WHO CALLS THEM BLOOBS! OBV i’m going to shorten their name! Tortillas- torts.
    every time my sister and I point out when the church choir is HORRIBLY flat or sharp, my mom whines about how she doesn’t have perfect pitch, but we do. it may be a recessive gene, autosomal, not sex linked- my dad isn’t that great on perfect pitch. hey- it’s a curse- i CRINGE when i hear myself singing. i totally know i’m flat.
    you need to move here, STAT. like now. so you can help me learn to cook better. =D
    HAPPY WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!

  2. yummy cheesy veggie goodness i bet you can get pork floss in china town!

  3. s says:

    a cheese lovers delight…

  4. Yasmeen says:

    You bet, this fantastic bake is perfect for the weight watchers πŸ˜€

  5. This sounds like such a yummy bake – I have all the ingredients and would love to make it this weekend!

  6. Debbi Smith says:

    Glad to see the temptations are briefly away. It’s so easy to fall back to the dark side with all those fantastic pictures of apple bread, brownie and your other sinful treats lately. I for sure want to try this, it looks wonderful! I do love the temptations too though. πŸ™‚

  7. Gorgeously colourful and healthy too! Yay for the Seasonal Ontario shout-out!
    I love barley, I really have to make it more often.
    …and, hey, I made your Symon pick last night – delicious!

  8. monicajane says:

    looks really good…your photos are so nice too

  9. Ferdzy says:

    Wow, Joanne, I’m so glad you tried this and like it! I think yours looks a lot better than mine, in fact. Thanks!

  10. SnoWhite says:

    I love barley – but hardly ever use it besides in soups. I think I’ll have to try it.

  11. Deborah says:

    While I love a good slice of cake, it sometimes feels really good to eat healthy like this. And it sounds quite tasty as well!

  12. Yummy & just so beautiful…

  13. ha ha,ur real fast …u know i posted it by mistake…am still working on alingin and pics and my internet and laptop have been having a fite for a couple of hours so i restart and a few pics dont get saved and am back to square 1…will put up the post complete in a bit and read more about ur cheese diet here too….cya soonnnn…and hope havent lost ur message with all this now:-

  14. Catherine says:

    This looks so good Joanne, and that cinnamon chocolate chip cake looks amazing! So yummy! Have a great weekend!

  15. Looks incredibly delicious as your food always does Joanne! I’m into health and fitness but I love food – real food like this! I’d never deny myself such pleasures. It’s the processed junk food I stay away from, and that’s really all that’s necessary for everyone – If only the average person realized how wonderfully they could eat and not ever have to count calories or any other such nonsense again if they only tossed the junk and ate real food!

  16. Whew…my post is up at last…i love this interesting bake though honestly have never worked with barely,mus check if its available around here….
    Well A little(or more)of cheese doesnt harm frens…its healthy yeah ..not to mention our dose of calcium (aint that why i love hot chocolate too)…..

    cheers Joanne and have a fun frolicking happy happy day….

  17. Debbie says:

    It looks delicious and love all the colors! I have a sweet tooth also and it’s hard to resist a good cookie or slice of cake or piece of chocolate and I could go on and on…

  18. Chef Aimee says:

    Colorful, healthy, and with barley? Awesome. I love barley and still remember the first time I had barley as a kid – its so delicious! Hope you are staying warm! xoxo

  19. ruchikacooks says:

    oooooo…Delish. Cheese and peppers makes it so colorful and the crust on top is the best part. Don’t you eat with your eyes first? Will scoot over to read your guest post.

    One quick Q about the regional event. I am worse with directions..So, about your event- Is it east or west..Middle east in the sense, the real middle east with the hot dessert and not our Uncle sam’s mid west.

  20. Jagruti says:

    Lovely and cheesy dish…beautiful pics..;))good space and dishes..


    Joy Of Cooking

  21. Faith says:

    The colors in this dish are stunning! What a brilliant use for barley, I’m so used to barley pilaf or barley soup, I never would have thought to use it in a dish like this. And the fact that this is full of cheesy goodness just makes me want to make it all the sooner!

  22. Thank you for introducing me to a whole new way of cooking… i mean the other day it was the beets, then now it’s barley… these are ingredients which i have not used yet before… thank you for sharing!

  23. doggybloggy says:

    shoot me an e mail – I couldnt find one for you –

  24. the twins says:

    this looks so good! definitely a dish i’d love.

  25. Hannah says:

    Hey, with so many veggies, it’s just got to be healthy, right? πŸ˜‰

  26. This sounds delicious and if it helps my jeans fit better, it’s going on the table soon!

  27. I’m going to thank you now! A pound of ricotta? Your a girl after my heart. It looks excellent. My skinny jeans await…

  28. They next time I come to NYC I am staying at your house (sorry Mo :)) because I would love for you to cook for me. This looks so good!

  29. Amy says:

    Yummy-yum-yum-yum. Calories, smalories. You run a million miles a day…like you have to worry about anything.

    Seriously, I want to make this tomorrow. I don’t have any barley, though. Think I could use brown rice?

  30. sophia says:

    Yum. Who eats 400 kcal for a meal? I’ll take 2 servings, please.
    Yay for barley!!

  31. Kathleen says:

    This sounds really good! Wish I had a piece right now!

  32. PJ says:

    Very interesting recipe.. I haven’t baked with barley before; looking at the pics I thought it was an egg dish but this is even better! This looks delicious.

  33. Mimi says:

    You can’t fool me! You’ll be back in a couple of days with something decadent.

  34. Shirley says:

    Healthy and delicious looking recipe!

  35. Cristie says:

    Oh, yes this sounds wonderful. I love barley and with the combination you put together it must have been perfect!

  36. Sook says:

    That looks amazing, Joanne!

  37. Healthy looks really good.

    May I brag about you a bit. You are now famous, not for your learning, or your running, or your cooking here but for your new spot on Our Krazy Kitchen as the Italian editor. Just gave you a title. I hope everyone checks out what you wrote. It was spectacular but that is no surprise.

  38. comfycook says:

    What do you think is the best to substitute for the barley since I have to be concerned with Mr. Gluten Free.

    I was thinking rice or quinoa. You think?

  39. I just saw that you did talk about your new spot on OKK. Got caught not paying complete attention which may be because I am marking papers as I blog.

  40. Haddock says:

    It looks yummy.
    Now to make it…………….

  41. Pam says:

    OMG…wonderful and yummy I bet!


  42. Erica says:

    This is a wonderful vegetarian dish! I am printing this one.

  43. Nicole, RD says:

    Your posts crack me up. I am totally trying this soon! I hate when my husband is out of town…no one to cook for!!!

  44. SE says:

    such a wonderful and colorful dish !! Food is what we would need till the end so its better we cook and indulge !!!..great pictures !!

  45. Julie says:

    ummm jenny craig called and wants her recipe back…?

    hahahaha no for real this looks INSANE. i want it now actually yesterday.

    p.s. our next date can be sushi and we can eat with chopsticks or hands…

  46. ruchikacooks says:

    Thanks for the info J . I was itching to write but wanted to make sure that I am on the right track.Not one but three will come your way this week.

  47. Sounds good!
    OMG I was so excited to read your comment on my post this morning — I had just gotten back from a 14 miler around CP! It would be awesome to run together sometime πŸ™‚

  48. Gulmohar says:

    yes, that’s a guilt free savory cake…very colorful too πŸ™‚

  49. Gulmohar says:

    BTW, replying to your comment on my Pineapple curry : Of course you could replace pineapple with Mango, it’ll be even more tastier πŸ™‚ In fact I end up with pineapple most of the time because we don’t get good mangoes here !

  50. teresa says:

    lol, yeah, my food blog used to be a healthy one too…those were the days!

    great recipe, i feel healthier just looking at it!

  51. Kerstin says:

    Looks fantastic with all those veggies! Calories definitely do not count on Valentine’s Day πŸ™‚

  52. YUM – need I say more? πŸ™‚

  53. Joanne says:

    Wow! Unbelievably delicious. It looks like it would just make best friends with your tongue. I love that you used barley. Can’t get much healthier. All the ingredients I love.

  54. Andreas says:

    Oh wow, how colourful.
    Yay for barley. πŸ™‚

  55. Mari says:

    That looks so good. I want to try to give this recipe a try

  56. Karen says:

    This will be a great dish to try when we have our summer garden going!

  57. Pam says:

    I just used some barley last night, in a boring dish!!

  58. I just came across your awesome blog! that dinner looks delicious!!!!

  59. Kim says:

    I gonna have to say that I think Tyler ruined me on barley. The first time I tried barley was for Tyler’s lamb shank and barley stew. The barley cooked in red wine and was this disgusting grayish color- not very attractive. I would love to try barley again because it is a grain and I am a carb queen! This sounds like a great method with zucchini (which I love).

  60. Mamatkamal says:

    This looks so delicious!

  61. Jen says:

    This is my kind of meal! looks really really good, not sure how I feel about barley but love the veggies and cheese!

    question, what do you do with all the leftover food? :))

  62. Amy says:

    I made it this morning. I only used one bell pepper because Paul’s not a huge fan, and I substituted the barley with brown rice, but otherwise stayed true to the recipe. Really good and creamy as you described. Hard to go wrong with eggs and ricotta.

  63. I am going to make this, except I will substitute coarse bulgur for the barley, I am out of barley!

  64. Simona says:

    Your bake looks very nice, colorful and flavorful. Thank you so much for participating.

  65. Simona says:

    Also, I like your description of tomato, mozzarella and basil as the “holy trinity of Italian food.”

  66. Elle says:

    Who needs siren song recipes when this one sounds so delicious and looks beautiful! I love barley, so will have to make this.

  67. Michelle says:

    I might have to make this recipe for my 10in10 Healthy in 10 Weeks Challenge!

    I love to eat delicious looking food. You know it going to be good before the first bite!

  68. Debinhawaii says:

    I am a barley fan and this looks delicious! πŸ˜‰ Great color in the pictures.

  69. Cherine says:

    This looks interesting. I love barley πŸ™‚

  70. Great jobe on your guest post. I’m looking forward to more of them.

  71. Juliana says:

    Joanne, both dishes look delicious…I love barley and this is a new way to cook it πŸ™‚ By the way I have an award for you, please drop by to pick it up πŸ˜‰

  72. Lovely and delicious Bake!!!! Great pics as well!

  73. Jagruti says:

    Hey JOanne,
    thanks for dropping by and leaving kind words. like what you said about the sending recipe, how can i send it to you? any email? and can i add link about your post? please guide me on this


  74. Yum Yucky says:

    So glad to find this recipe. I love that it looks greedy-good, but there’s no meat in it. I’m not a vegetarian, but me and meat have a love/hate relationship lately. What’s that all about??

  75. Danielle says:

    this looks delish!! I’ve never used barley except for in turkey soup. yeah! another recipe for barley (now i have something I can do with the other 1/2 bag I have sitting in my fridge haha)

  76. katecooks says:

    1 lb of ricotta?! i bet that tastes so decadent. i love all the veggie colors too! and i agree..calories dont count on v-day. does that mean i should make all those tempting desserts you just referenced that i have starred on my reader??

  77. Anonymous says:

    Made this today and used red and green pepper, since that’s what I had on hand, and it was DELICIOUS! I did find though, that your thoughts of 4 servings was more than generous – I probably will get at least 8 servings by my hunger quotients. Barley has become a real staple in my life – try it as risotto and it is truly heavenly!

  78. Kevin says:

    This is just packed with healthy goodness! I really like the vibrant colours.

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