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Thai Spiced Chicken with Barley

Thai red curry paste is available in the Asian section of your grocery store. Increase the amount according to your tolerance to spice. Barley kernels cook in the sauce, absorbing the aromatic flavours of lemon grass, curry and coconut. One dish, many flavours! A great combination for the slow cooker as well.

1 Tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
3 to 4 boned, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into large cubes
1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 4 pieces, or 2 slices fresh lime
1 cup (250 mL) pot or pearl barley
1 tsp (5 mL) Thai red curry paste (more to taste, if desired)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
1 13.5-oz (398 mL) can light coconut milk
3 1/2 cups (900 mL) chicken broth
1 13.5-oz (398 mL) can pineapple chunks with juice
1 cup (250 mL) frozen green peas
½ cup (125 mL) fresh basil, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish

In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken pieces; cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add onion, red pepper, lemongrass and barley, and continue to brown for 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine curry paste, fish or soy sauce, coconut milk and broth. Stir into chicken and barley mixture. Cover skillet, and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook until barley is tender, about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add pineapple and green peas; cook for a few minutes to heat through. Mixture should be slightly saucy. Remove lemongrass pieces.

Serve in shallow bowls garnished with basil leaves and lime wedges.

For the slow cooker: Place browned chicken, vegetables, barley, seasonings and liquids in slow cooker. Cook on low heat until barley is tender, about 2 hours. Stir in peas and pineapple to heat through.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving, 1/4 of recipe):

Calories: 534
Protein: 32 g
Carbohydrate: 69 g
Fibre: 12 g
Sugars: 22 g
Fat: 15 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 55 mg
Sodium: 874 mg
Potassium: 786 mg