Baked, stuffed bell peppers make an ideal budget main course but usually require lengthy cooking time. This speedy version calls for steaming the red peppers to soften them before you fill them to the brim with zesty barley-mushroom stuffing.
Combine barley and 2 cups vegetable broth in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice tops off red peppers, and remove seeds and inner membranes. Reserve tops for later use. Place peppers on steaming rack over boiling water, and cover saucepan. Steam peppers for about 15 minutes, or until tender but not soft. Remove from heat, and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot. Sauté onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add barley and any remaining cooking liquid, and stir until grains are coated with oil. Add mushrooms and remaining 1 cup vegetable broth, and sauté mixture for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms soften and liquid absorbed. Stir in feta, lemon juice, parsley, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Stand peppers upright, and spoon barley mixture into them. Fill each pepper, and serve with tops over the filling or propped alongside. Garnish with parsley and serve.
In keeping with the “budget main course” ideal of this dish, pair it with a wine that’s suitable for everyday drinking. Such wines are moderately priced, with forward fruit, perhaps a bit of oakiness, and some acid (either from the fruit, the wood or both). Try any wine in the Premium Diamond Blended Varietal line by Australian producer Rosemount.