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Vegetable Paella with Golden Barley
Vegetable Paella with Golden Barley

Paella is traditionally made with Spanish Valencia rice, but this version uses hulled barley, which adds a chewy, nutty component to this flavorful dish. Instead of the customary saffron, I use turmeric to achieve the same golden color at a fraction of the cost.


3½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 (28-oz) BPA-free can or Tetra Pak salt-free diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup uncooked hulled barley,  soaked overnight in water and drained

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground fennel

1 (½-inch) piece fresh turmeric, grated, or ½ teaspoon ground

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

1½ cups cooked or 1 (15-ounce) BPA-free can or Tetra Pak salt-free cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) BPA-free can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1 cup green peas

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 lemon, cut into wedges

1.  Heat ¼ cup of the vegetable broth in a large saucepan or paella pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the red and yellow or green bell peppers, tomatoes with their juices, barley, paprika, fennel, turmeric, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the remaining 3 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook until the barley is tender, 45 to 50 minutes.

2. Once the barley is tender, uncover, stir in the cannellini beans, artichoke hearts, and peas, and then cover and set aside for 10 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Sprinkle with the parsley, garnish with lemon wedges, and serve hot.

Michael Greger
Michael Greger

The How Not to Diet Cook book is a full-color, fully illustrated cook book that shares the science of long-term weight-loss success, featuring over 100 delicious recipes. A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition. He has videos on more than 2,000health topics freely available at, with new videos and articles uploaded almost every day.

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