A few weeks ago I was strolling through the Goya section at my local grocery store (one of my favorite aisles) when I noticed a bag of barley. I’m sure I’ve had beef and barley soup at some point in my life, but aside from that I really wasn’t that familiar with it. So, I tossed it in my cart and it has been sitting in my cabinet ever since.
After some recipe brainstorming I decided to give it a go. It turns out barley is quite the healthy little whole grain. It boasts loads of fiber, protein and vitamins. Yay. It’s also really delicious, with a chewy texture and nutty flavor. It works well warm as a substitute for rice in many dishes, or like it is here, chilled in a salad. I ate my portion as my main course over baby spinach, but it would be great as a side dish as well. I can see this at summer potlucks and barbecues or prepared in advance for a quick dinner. Wholesome and hearty without being too heavy, I think I’ve found my summer staple.
Barley Salad with Feta and Herbs
1 cup uncooked barley
3 cups water
1 peeled and diced carrot
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup beans (optional – I added this to boost up the protein a bit)
1/4 cup sliced olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh minced herbs, I used dill (from my garden!) and chives. Plus more for topping
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper.
1.) Cook the barley ahead of time, so it has time to cool. Bring the water to a boil and add a pinch or two of salt. Add in the barley and cover. Drop the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the barley is tender, but still with a bit of chew. If you have leftover water drain it.
2.) Once the barley has cooled add in the vegetables, herbs, beans and feta.
3.) In a separate bowl mix together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over the barley mixture and top with a bit more fresh herbs.
4.) Serve over a bed of lettuce or baby spinach for an entre or on its own as a side dish.