½ large red onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

½ medium zucchini

½ medium yellow squash

1 whole roasted red pepper (from a jar)

8 sun-dried tomatoes (vacuum-packed, preferably)

1½ cups pearl barley (see note)

4½ cups no-salt-added vegetable broth

2 cups no-salt-added canned crushed tomatoes and their juices

Shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)

Mince the onion (about ¾ cup) and garlic; together is OK. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion and garlic. Add a three-fingered pinch of the salt and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until softened, stirring as needed.

Meanwhile, trim the zucchini and squash halves, then cut them each into thin rounds. Coarsely chop the roasted red pepper. Cut each sun-dried tomato in half lengthwise.

Stir the pearl barley into the skillet; cook for a minute or two, then add the zucchini, squash, roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes, stirring to incorporate. Add about one-quarter of the broth; cook for a few minutes, then stir in a half cup. Continue in the same gradual cook-and-add manner to use a total of 2½ cups of the broth.

Add the canned tomatoes and their juices; once the liquid returns to bubbling at the edges, taste the barley to check for doneness. If it seems a little chewy or firm, gradually add some or all the remaining broth, cooking until the pearl barley plumps and thickens the mixture like a risotto. Taste and season with more salt, as needed. Divide among warmed bowls; top with the cheese, if using, and serve right away with warm garlic bread.

Serves 3 or maybe 4

Nutrition | Per serving (using ¼ teaspoon salt): 540 calories, 14 g protein, 103 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 16 g dietary fiber, 20 g sugar

Adapted from "Eat Your Way to a Healthy Gut: Tackle Digestive Complaints by Changing the Way You Eat, in 50 Recipes," by Dale Pinnock (Quadrille, 2017).