I have included vegetables, carbs, and protein in one dish. If preferred you could make a simple barley risotto with just the parmesan cheese (and mushrooms) and then serve the chicken breast, sauted apples and cranberries, and broccoli on the side.
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple (golden delicious), coarsely chopped
8 oz cremini mushrooms, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup pearl barley
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, low-sodium
2 sprigs fresh thyme
dried cranberries, handful, optional
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and then sauté 5-6 minutes per side. Once cooked through, place aside on a cutting board. Let rest, then chop into bite sized pieces.
Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, apple, mushrooms and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the barley, sauté 1 minute. Pour in the chicken broth and thyme sprigs, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally 45 minutes. After 25 minutes add in the cranberries, if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with grated cheese.