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Barley-Stuffed Artichokes

1/2 cup pearl barley
1-1/2 cups water
4 large artichokes
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/4 cup finely sliced green onion

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

In small saucepan with lid bring water to a boil. Add barley and return to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Set aside. Rinse artichokes. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan, just large enough to hold snuggly. Add salt and 2 to 3 inches boiling water to artichokes. Cover and boil gently for 35 to 45 minutes or until artichoke bases can be pierced easily with fork. (Add more boiling water if necessary.) Remove artichokes from saucepan; turn upside down to drain and cool. When cool, gently spread artichoke leaves to reveal center cone of leaves. Pull out center cone; discard. Scrape out any purple-tipped leaves and fuzz from each artichoke center; discard. Combine cooked barley, cucumber, bell pepper, almonds and green onion in medium bowl. Mix together dressing ingredients; toss with barley mixture. Refrigerate barley for 30 minutes. Spoon equal amounts of chilled barley mixture into centers of artichokes and serve. Makes 4 entrée servings.

Per serving: calories 433, protein 15g, fat 25g, carbohydrates 43g, cholesterol 19mg, fiber 15g, sodium 1216mg.

Cook's tip
To save on last-minute prep time, artichokes may be cooked ahead of time, wrapped and refrigerated until ready to fill.