Bring stock and 3 cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil). Keep mixture warm.
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms and salt; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in barley; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add Madeira; cook 1 minute or until liquid is absorbed. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in 2 cups broth mixture; cook 4 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in 2 ounces Gruyère, tomatoes, soy sauce, pepper, spinach, and bacon. Place barley mixture in a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes.
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In the cooking light book where this appears it hilariously says 45 min to prepare.. beginning to end it's a two hour process. That's not including cleanup. It's a fine casserole, but money and time are way underestimated. Would never make again.
Really did not care for this recipe at all. It just didn't work. The flavor of the barley overwhelmed the bacon and the sun dried tomatoes, which you really just couldn't taste. We have half of it left, but not even sure we're going to eat it for leftovers. Very disappointing. And yes it is true it takes a long time to cook, but that is not the reason for the 1 star review.
This is the first dish I have made from Cooking Light that I will throw out. I followed recipe exactly, and my husband and I both agreed the flavor was not something we wish to repeat. Too bad as I thought it would provide leftovers for another dinner and was time consuming to make.
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