Back in March, I got serious about the pernicious extra ten pounds I’ve been carrying around since my six-year-old was born. I found a fitness routine that fits nicely into my schedule and I altered my eating habits – which weren’t terrible to begin with, but they certainly weren’t good enough to banish the LBs.
Time’s short here, so what I needed was a one-bowl, go-to medley with complex carbs, veggies, protein, and a teensy bit of “the good fat.” I discovered this veggie-dense barley salad recipe, and it seemed to fit the bill, so I picked up barley at the bulk food store, boiled it, and after about 15 minutes of chopping and mixing, I had an assembled salad.
My thoughts pre-tasting: “This is guinea pig food. It will be bland and unbearable. No one in the house will eat this but me, and I will hate it. But I will eat it anyway because I hate my extra ten pounds more.”
My thoughts post-tasting: “What is this trickery?! This is not possible! The flavors…the pop-pop-pop of the barley…this like the Fourth of July in my mouth! Taste buds rejoice!”
I concealed the bowl on the lowest shelf of the fridge (this would be mine! All mine!). But my husband (a.k.a. The Bloodhound) unearthed my stash that very evening and tasted it. And so it became the newest member of our family. I make it weekly in triple batches.
I must point out here that the original recipe calls for pearl barley, which is white. I had inadvertently bought Ethiopian barley, which is brown, and the exact opposite of what I actually needed…but attention to detail has never been my forte. Turns out, it was a serendipitous mistake, because it’s the slightly crunchy texture and nutty flavor of the Ethiopian variety that lifts the salad to a celestial level. Hulled barley is an acceptable second. But the pearl barley, according to my husband’s colleagues who followed the original recipe, is flavorless and squishy. Just don’t do it.
Modified Recipe (with Hubs’ parenthetical commentary; he has strong feelings about food.)
2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked black or hulled barley (Original recipe called for pearl barley which is not as good.)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil (Extra virgin)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes (Any fresh diced tomatoes will do)
1 cup thinly sliced baby spinach leaves (Great with or without)
1/2 cup diced green (or any other color) bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup feta cheese or shredded parmesan cheese (Use feta. Buying Greek feta from a deli counter is way cheaper and better than the little tubs from the grocery store. It comes in a block. Just crumble it as you go. Ask for a container of brine with it and you can store it refrigerated in the brine for weeks.)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Even the kids love it. It’s a side, it’s a snack and, when I’m really feeling crazy I add chicken or garbanzo beans and it’s a guilt-free meal.