I started in on making it around 6:30 and by 8:00 it was in the oven baking. Cooking the barley takes 45 minutes and if you time it right I guess you can have the sauteing done by the time the barley is ready but I didn't so I think it took longer than it needed to. It tastes great, is very filling and I enjoy the multiple steps in preparing it, which you will see in the recipe below.
There has been a welcome evolution in my family around my veganism. At first it was more or less ignored and I mostly had to fend for myself at group meals, hoping we'd go to a place where there was stuff I would be happy eating, or there was food in the home I was visiting that was on my diet. This made me really uncomfortable. I ended up eating a lot of salad and french fries and while I like each of them, as a meal, after two or three days in a row, they start to suck. So, I stopped visiting my family at the holidays. I may have been a vegan yogi but that didn't stop me from being passive/aggressive too. I just dropped out of family events without explanation.
I do love my family and I was hurt that they wouldn't make an effort to include me. Of course I wasn't giving them any chance to address my problem, since I wasn't letting them know I had one. Then, even though it was hard for me, I did let on what had happened. I forget who I told or how but eventually I let both my sisters and my Mom know why I didn't want to visit with them at the holidays anymore. I probably told my sister Bea first, since she is vegetarian at times too and is the most sympatico family member in general. I think she encouraged me to make an effort to let Mom and Lisa know. They responded by taking care of me around the food issue. My sister Lisa in particular made a special effort to pick restaurants I would like and make sure there were things in the house I would enjoy for home meals. It felt wonderful to be embraced in that way.
Today, things are even better, Lisa's daughter Samantha and her brother Alex are making the Thanksgiving dinner and they planned to make sure there was plenty of vegetarian food from the outset, including some vegan things. I didn't have to say a word except thank you. They just let me know their plans and I offered to make something and they were delighted. Here it is:
Savory Vegan Barley Stuffing
2 cups Barley
6 cups water
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Medium Onions sliced and halved5 Garlic Cloves Sliced
5 Medium Carrots grated4 Stalks Celery halved and sliced
1 cup Mushrooms sliced
1 cup Walnuts halved and crushed a bit
5 Tablespoons Tamari
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder1/4 tsp thyme
3/4 cup tahini dressing3/4 cup tahini dressing
Preheat oven to 350. Bring water to a boil in a 3 quart or larger pot. Add barley and lower heat to low. Simmer covered for 45 minutes, till all water is absorbed and barley is as soft as it gets.
Heat oil in a large wide pot, 5 quarts or more, over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes until tender. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, nuts, tamari, sea salt, basil, oregano, garlic powder and thyme. Mix well and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the barley and cook for 3 minutes to mixing well.
Prepare Tahini Dressing
1/2 cup Tahini
3/4 cup Water
2 tablespoons tamari
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/3 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp basil
1/8 tsp oregano
1/4 small onion diced
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for 3 minutes till liquified. This makes 1.5 cups, you will use 3/4's in the recipe and have 3/4s left as a gravy to be applied as people like when serving.
Transfer half of the bulgur mixture to an 8"x12" baking dish or equivalent, about 4 quarts. Add a layer of tahini dressing using half the portion reserved for the recipe. Add the second layer of bulgur and tahini dressing. Bake in 350 oven for 35 minutes uncovered.
Serve with extra dressing on the side.
That is it. It is hearty, flavorful and in the season. It is fairly thick and I'm guessing would make a good dressing for a bird too, but I hope I never find out.
Here is a song I love about the complexities of holiday dinners. Long before I cried easily, this funny song by Dar Williams consistently brought tears to my eyes and I love crying with it as much today as the first time I heard it.
May you find peace and love where ever you find yourself this Thanksgiving!