Barley Salad

July 8, 2012

Have you ever cooked with barley before? If yes, what is your favourite barley recipe?

As much as I adore quinoa, and despite the imbalanced number of recipes involving quinoa posted thus far on this blog, I do eat a variety of other whole grains! The first time I cooked barley was for the salad featured in this post, and I have since made this recipe many times, usually in the summer to accompany grilled meat.

This healthy yet tasty salad comes from Leslie Beck’s “Foods that Fight Disease – A Nutrition Guide to Staying Healthy for Life” and can easily be modified to accommodate the vegetables you have on hand and your specific taste preferences. The original recipe calls for pot barley, grated carrots, sliced black olives, chopped capers, and green onions (in keeping with yesterday’s green onion theme!). I am not a huge fan of black olives or capers (though I don’t mind them in this particular salad), so today I omitted those and I didn’t feel it needed anything to replace the missing ingredients. Still, next time I may add some roasted red pepper as I think the colour, texture and taste would be a perfect fit, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I just think roasted red pepper takes any dish to the next level. Update: Today I added chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese in addition to the roasted red pepper to the leftovers from yesterday, and it was divine!

The main reason I do not make anything with barley very often is that it takes approximately one hour to cook. Compare that to quinoa’s cooking time of 10 – 15 minutes, and it quickly becomes obvious why quinoa is a staple in my kitchen. Still, I think it is important to incorporate a wide variety of whole grains into our diets and it is well worth the effort to make the time to prepare barley and other longer-cooking whole grains. I am now officially making it my personal goal to prepare barley-based meals once a week, and I challenge you to do the same!

Before I provide you with the recipe, here are some interesting facts about barley (source: Leslie Beck’s website):

  1. Barley is more flavourful and has a chewier texture than white rice, with a more subtle flavour than brown rice.
  2. Barley is versatile: like oats, it is an excellent source of soluble fibre, which can help in lowering blood cholesterol levels.
  3. Hulled barley or “whole grain” barley has only the outer husk (hull) removed and is the most nutritious form of barley, since the bran and germ are left intact. It may not be as widely available as other barley types, but its superior nutrient content makes it worth seeking out.
  4. Pot (Scotch) barley Pot barley is husked and coarsely ground.  It is polished like pearl barley, but to a lesser extent, so the kernals are less refined, retaining more of the bran layer than pearled. The kernals are not as small as pearl barley, so pot barley takes a little longer to cook.
  5. Pearl barley Barley kernels are polished (pearled) to remove the double outer hull and the bran layer, which also removes much of the nutrients. Polishing the kernals produces uniform, ivory-coloured granules. Like white rice, this process makes the kernals less nutritious but faster to cook.

Barley Salad
(from Leslie Beck’s “Foods that Fight Disease – A Nutrition Guide to Staying Healthy for Life”

Ingredients:

2 and 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup dry white wine (or orange juice is excellent, too!)

1 cup pot barley

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar (though I have omitted this in the past and the salad still tasted excellent)

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (or table salt will do)

2 carrots, shredded

1/4 cup sliced pitted black olives

2 tbsp capers (whole or chopped)

2 green onions, finely sliced

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, bring water and wine (or orange juice) to a boil. Add barley; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until barley is tender. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid, and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and salt.

Combine barley with carrots, olives, capers, and onions. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, tossing to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 6

Per 3/4 cup serving: 192 cal, 4 g pro, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 30 g carb, 4 g fibre, 0 mg chol, 444 mg sodium

Excellent source of: vitamin A

There’s just something about a roasted red pepper that takes a meal to the next level. Last night it was just me and the kids for dinner and so I decided to make something vegetarian. Thursdays is when my weekly CSA box arrives so it made sense to use at least one of its (entirely green!) contents – enter broccoli. I had opened a new jar of tomato sauce (my favourite one is from Costco – see picture below) at lunch time for some 10-Minute Pizza and so I decided to boil some whole wheat Fusili and voila – I had a quick and tasty meal for the children. I usually stay away from carbohydrates at dinner time, but I was famished and the children’s dinner smelled soooo good, and who really wants to eat like a rabbit every lunch and dinner!?!? Then I recalled the roasted red pepper in the fridge, left over from a BBQ dinner earlier this week, and together with some of the fresh basil in my CSA box I served myself a big bowl of bliss!

How to Roast a Pepper on the BBQ:
Spray* with olive oil (or rub on some oil using your fingers)
Place on hot BBQ and turn pepper every few minutes (leave BBQ on medium-high)
Remove the pepper once it has softened and blackened (approximately 10 – 15 minutes)
Let pepper cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard the skin, stem, and seeds

How to Roast a Pepper in the oven:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray* with olive oil (or rub on some oil using your fingers)
Place pepper on baking tray or in casserole dish
Remove the pepper once it has softened and blackened (approximately 15 – 20 minutes)
Let pepper cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard the skin, stem, and seeds

* Several years ago I purchased a refillable oil mister and highly recommend them, as they make it possible to use as little oil as necessary for stir fries, etc. I have seen them at Winners, Kitchen Stuff Plus and Costco.