2 tsp olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped white or yellow onion (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
½ cup uncooked pearl barley
½ cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
½ cup slivered almonds (2 oz.)
½ cup dried cranberries
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or 4-qt pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened (3 to 5 minutes). Add barley, wild rice and thyme; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add broth and bay leaf; bring to a boil; reduce heat, simmer and cook covered, 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly golden and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, toast almonds in a small baking pan in a 350-degree oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes.) Transfer almonds to a plate to cool.
3. After stuffing has cooked for 35 minutes, lift lid and stir in dried cranberries. Simmer, covered, until barley and wild rice are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 more minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add parsley; add pepper to taste. Fluff with a fork and sprinkle top with toasted almonds, or allow guests to sprinkle almonds per serving.
Makes 8 half-cup servings.
Tip: You can make the stuffing ahead of time; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To reheat, place stuffing in baking dish, add 1/8 to ¼ cup water and cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, checking to test temperature and avoid overcooking. Sprinkle with almonds just before serving.