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Cheesy Barley-lentil Casserole

5 cups water
3 vegetarian vegetable bouillon cubes
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 cup dried lentils
1 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese -- divided
3 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds

1. Combine water and bouillon cubes in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until cubes dissolve. Pour into a 4-quart slow cooker; stir in mushrooms and next 8 ingredients. Cover; cook on low-heat setting 6 hours or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Discard bay leaf. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Spoon barley mixture into individual bowls; sprinkle with remaining cheese and sunflower seeds.

Yield: 9 servings.


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