Dinner Rush! Kielbasa with Barley-Pecan Pilaf

Halloween is here at last! When we were growing up, the evening of Oct. 31 was 100 percent dedicated to getting out the door in search of candy. With the impending candy onslaught, dinner was a bit of an afterthought (“Whaddya mean I can’t just have candy bars and peanut butter cups?!”).

Whether you’ve got little ones of your own or you are fending off the horde at your doorstep, set yourself up for success with a no-brainer meal to power you the whole night through. Kielbasa sausage — which comes ready to eat — is the perfect rich and hearty companion to a barley salad that can be served warm or at room temperature. That barley can even be made hours before the army of orange plastic pumpkins descends.

Also, just to be clear about that whole peanut-butter-cups-for-dinner thing, I’m not not condoning it. Just think of the example you’re setting for the children.

Kielbasa with Barley-Pecan Pilaf
Total Time: 25 min
Prep: 5 min
Cook: 20 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy
For the barley:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
3/4 cup pearl barley
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 bay leaf
Salt and ground black pepper
1 ripe Bosc pear, cored and diced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, toasted, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
One 12- to 16-ounce kielbasa, split and cut into four pieces
Whole-grain mustard, for serving

Place a pot over medium heat with the butter. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the barley, stock and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer the barley until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the pear, lemon zest and juice, parsley and pecans. Reserve.

While the barley is resting, place a saute pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the kielbasa, cut-side down first, and sear until golden brown and heated through, 3 minutes per side.

Serve the kielbasa with the barley and a dollop of whole-grain mustard.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Instagram or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.

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