Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.

Bulgur with fennel and apples

1 cup bulgur

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large apple, chopped (about 2 cups)

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

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¼ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon dried sage

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup parsley, chopped

1. Combine the bulgur with 2 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. (If there is water left in the pot, simply drain it off).

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the fennel and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the apple, vinegar, thyme and sage and cook until the apples are soft, about 3 minutes. Toss with the bulgur, salt, pepper and parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving196 calories, 5 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 10 g fiber, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 476 mg sodium

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Curried barley

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1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 cup quick-cooking barley

¼ cup golden raisins

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¼ cup slivered almonds

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high. Add the onion and curry and cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add the barley and 2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low simmer, cover and cook 12 minutes, or until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the raisins, remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

2. Combine the barley with the almonds, salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 245 calories 6 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 294 mg sodium

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Farro with mushrooms and caramelized onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced onion

½ teaspoon dried thyme

2 cups sliced mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, white or mixed)

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons Madeira

1 cup pearled farro

1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and deeply golden, about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and salt and cook until they are softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Madeira and cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the farro: rinse the grains in a strainer under cold water. Drain and combine with 3 cups water in a small pot; bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until the grains are chewy but tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Combine farro and onion-mushroom mixture; season to taste with additional salt and black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving: 282 calories, 9 g protein, 45 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 297 mg sodium

TIP: These grain dishes may be augmented with cooked protein, such as chicken or beans, to make a complete meal, and all are equally good served warm or at room temperature.