Barley. It’s an often overlooked grain, but you should definitely put it on your cooking radar. Truthfully, it would never have made it onto mine if I hadn’t happened upon a box in my parent’s pantry last time I was home. My parents were moving and my dad told me to take whatever I wanted from the kitchen. When I saw a box of barley, I snatched it up out of curiosity alone. Well, curiosity certainly didn’t kill this cat! Not only is barley a new favorite of mine for lunches, but its super duper nutritious!
^^water boiling over? A wooden spoon over the pot will keep that water in its place!
Pouring the barley out of the box, it looks suspiciously like oatmeal. Cook it up and it still looks suspiciously like oatmeal, but if oatmeal didn’t ever get creamy. Like rice or quinoa, the individual grains remain separated when it cooks. The texture is slightly chewy and the flavor is nutty and hearty. It works great in both sweet and savory dishes. Like I told you, radar worthy!
Sunday I was feeling a leeetle guilty about my week of lazing, so I wanted to set a slightly more virtuous tone for the week ahead. Virtuous + still tasty = Barley! Since it was a downright balmy 50 degrees Sunday, I was in the mood for bright, fresh flavors that reminded me of spring. Cannellini beans, goat cheese, pistachios, and parsley all came into the mix. To finish off the salad, I opted for a bright and refreshing lemon vinaigrette.
This salad lasts for several days, and tastes even more delicious on day 2 or 3, once the flavors have really had time to meld and the barley has absorbed the vinaigrette. Its delicious warm, room temperature, and cold. I divided mine up into four containers for lunches all week. Tuesday, I even put the room temperature salad over a bed of baby spinach. There was enough dressing from the salad to coat all of the leaves, and it made for a healthy and satisfying lunch.
There’s a lot to be said for not having to spend anytime during the week wondering what you are going to pack for lunch. This requires no more effort than whipping up a quick meal, but the pay out is much better. Quick, yummy, nutritious, and even budget friendly! What are you waiting for?
Spring Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:
Four 1 cup servings
1 cup barley* cooked per package instructions with 1/2 tsp salt added to cooking water, cooled slightly.
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/3 – 1/2 cup parley, roughly chopped
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* If my enthusiastic pitch for barley didn’t convince you, brown rice or quinoa would work great. You just need 2 1/2 – 3 cups cooked.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2-3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon joice
1 clove garlic, finely minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper (or to taste)
- Cook barley per instructions on the box, adding 1/2 teaspoon to the cooking water before adding barley. Cook until all water is evaporated or absorbed, and set aside to cool slightly.
- Place cannellini beans in a large mixing bowl. Add roughly chopped parsley, pistachios, and goat cheese crumbles.
- In a separate bowl or container (a mason jar works great for this!), combine all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette, excluding the salt and pepper. Whisk together (or shake if using a mason jar), taste, and add desired amount of salt and pepper.
- Put barley in the bowl containing the beans, parsley, pistachios, and goat cheese.
- Pour dressing over top of the barley and gently mix until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and coated in the dressing.
- To serve, divide among four bowls and top with additional chopped parsley, pistachios, and goat cheese to garnish.