If there's anything I learned working for Mark Bittman, it's the utility of the broiler. I had never used my broiler before my time with him, and then suddenly I felt like everything I was cooking was in the broiler—croutons, shrimp, quesadillas. Everything. So yesterday when I wanted a quick dinner, I went to the broiler. First, I set up a pot of 1 cup pearled barley, covered it with water, and set it to boil. When the barley was done, I drained it and added it to a bowl.
On one side of a large broiler pan I added chopped asparagus and chopped zucchini tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and set that below the broiler to cook. The broiler is amazing because it mimics a grill, and the heat is easily controlled by moving the rack closer or further from the flame. I kept the pan about 6 inches from the flame. After two minutes, I tossed the vegetables and added whole grape tomatoes and 1/2 lb shrimp tossed with 1 chopped garlic clove, olive oil, salt and pepper to the other side of the pan and continued cooking everything. As that cooked, I prepared a leftover artichoke heart and sliced up some radishes and red onion and added that to the barley. After another two minutes, I turned the shrimp, removed the asparagus and added them to the bowl with the barley and let the other veggies and shrimp continued cooking.
When everything had a slight char, I tossed it all in the bowl, added a spritz of lemon, some leftover roasted cauliflower (really, everything but the kitchen sink), some feta cheese and wha-la. Dinner. And, not much cleanup.