Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chicken Barley Casserole

It may sound weird, but I use my slow cooker at least as much in the summer as I do in the winter, if not more. Yes, the slow cooker produces hot, hearty meals - but it gives off very little heat, and I can get it started in the morning so we can be playing outside right up until dinnertime. No need to pull the kids back into the house at 4 p.m. so I can start making dinner when I made it at 9 a.m.! This chicken barley casserole is a favorite of ours. I've adapted it from a recipe from The Healthy Slow Cooker, my favorite slow cooker cookbook. You can spice it up as much as you want (or as much as your children can take!).

Chicken Barley Casserole

2 sausages, casings removed (you can use hot Italian, sweet Italian, or chorizo)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
28oz canned diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
1 can white beans, rinsed (or black beans, or kidney beans)
2-4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 red bell peppers, diced (to be added at the end)
1/2 tsp (or up to 2-3 tsp) chili powder
1-2 avocados, diced or sliced, for garnish

In a saucepan, heat sausage and onions over medium heat, crumbling the sausage with a wooden spoon. When the sausage is cooked through, add the garlic, cumin, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for another minute. Add tomatoes with their juices; bring to a boil.

Pour the sausage-onion-tomato mixture into your slow cooker. Add the chicken stock, barley, beans, and chicken. Stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Add in the diced red pepper and the chili powder. Stir well, and cook on High for about 20 minutes.

Serve bowls of the casserole topped with avocado.


C. Beth said...

Oh, sounds so good!! Can't wait to try it!

MaryAnne said...

This does sound delicious, and thanks for reminding me how useful slow cookers can be in the summertime!

Bargain Becky said...

That looks great! 28 oz canned tomatoes are .77 cents at Shaw's this week!

Kara said...

Seriously?? Time to stock up! I go through canned tomatoes like they're water :-)

Bargain Becky said...

Yep. It's actually a 3 day sale (Today-Sunday). Pastene "Kitchen Ready" Tomatoes. 28 oz. Limit 8. 77 cents. I'm so dumb with food so I can't tell you if it's just whole tomatoes or diced too.