What’s for Dinner: Filet Mignon and Barley Stew - SLO Classical Academy
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What’s for Dinner: Filet Mignon and Barley Stew

{photo by Jenny Bischoff}

Filet Mignon and Barley “Stew” with Spinach

The New Whole Grains Cookbook by Robin Asbell

Makes 6 cups (about 4 servings)

This one-pot meal is a hearty, nutritious stew using barley, an often underused healthy grain. It takes only slightly more time than I usually devote to dinner, but it’s easy and the results are delicious and satisfying. 

Robin Asbell’s notes say: “This preparation elevates the stew to a fine dining experience. Searing tender steak pieces and then removing them allows the fond of brown bits in the pan to infuse the dish and simmer into a long-cooking grain without overcooking the meat. Spinach adds a note of freshness and color. Purple or black barley, or any grain, would work well here.”


  • 1 pound beef tenderloin or other tender steak
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1½ cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup hulled barley, soaked overnight
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped spinach


  • Cut the beef into 1-inch, bite-size pieces. Combine the flour, salt, and cracked pepper on a plate, and roll half of the beef in this seasoned flour. 
  • In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the unfloured half of the beef, and cook over medium-high heat until the beef is browned but still rare in the center. Scrape the beef into a bowl, drain the fat back into the pan, and cook the floured beef. Transfer that beef to the bowl also. 
  • Quickly add the onion and carrot to the hot pan and scrape up the browned bits. As soon as the onion is golden, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, until it is a shade darker. Add the barley, stock, and thyme and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • When the barley is tender, add the beef to the pan and reheat. Stir in the spinach. Serve as soon as the spinach is just wilted and the beef is hot.

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