Did You Know? Barley played an important role in ancient Greek culture as a staple bread-making grain as well as an important food for athletes, who attributed much of their strength to their barley-containing training diets. Gladiators were even known as hordearii, which means "eaters of barley."
One more dish before we put Easter away until next Spring. This barley salad was my favorite addition to our lunch on Sunday. The original recipe called for orzo, but that didn't seem hearty enough for me, nor very flavorful. My fondness of barley's texture and chewiness won over, and I used this favorite grain of mine once more in a lovely salad of sorts.
Besides being wonderfully nutty, barley also packs quite the nutritional punch. Unlike your average pasta or white rice, barley delivers over half of your %DV of fiber and selenium per one cup serving, as well as being a good source of phosphorous, copper, and manganese. Racking up benefits like protection against cardiovascular disease, free radicals, atherosclerosis, and type 2 diabetes, barley is a nutritious whole grain you surely want to incorporate into your diet.
Besides the barley, the ingredients backing it up are in no way lacking nutritionally either. Full of juicy tomatoes, creamy feta, and spicy green onions, the whole salad comes together with a wonderful honey-sweetened vinaigrette. You'll have some extra dressing after tossing the barley, so just throw it in the fridge to flavor your salads and veggies for the next couple days (which is about how long it will last). Enjoy!
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups barley
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped green onions
Rinse barley, and place in a small bowl. Cover with water by about two inches, and let soak for about an hour. Drain.
Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Stir in barley, reduce heat, cover, and boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large wide bowl, tossing frequently until cool.
Mix tomatoes, feta, basil, green onions, and almonds into barley. Add vinaigrette (I used about half); toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve at room temperature.