One of my favorite indulgences is stopping by Whole Foods for a quick lunch in between work and classes. I love it because I know their standards for quality whole foods ingredients, and it’s pretty darn easy to find some delicious vegan and vegetarian options. As it so happens our local WF is smack dab in the middle of my school campus and my new internship, so you can see how I’m easily swayed. But my wallet is having trouble keeping up with my cravings, so I decided to make some of the creative salad bar dishes back at home instead.
The other day I had a fabulous barley salad made with hulled barley, dried cranberries and nuts. I literally went nuts over this salad (no pun intended) and knew I had to make my own version! I’ve cooked a lot with pearled barely but I had yet to venture towards the hulled barley in the bulk bin section. And shame on me because hulled barely is actually more of a whole grain than pearled barley. Barley does contain gluten, so if you are gluten sensitive I don’t recommend this one; but alas I indulge in gluten in moderation and this whole grain rocks my socks. It has an earthy, nutty and almost sweet flavor and the texture is sort of chewy. It’s seriously yummy stuff.
As with any bulk items, make sure you wash the grains really well before cooking! I found a few sneaky lil critters in my barley stash this morning. These little grain bugs, called weevils, are notorious for sneaking into bulk bins and feeding on the softer insides of the grains. If you buy organic grains, it is more likely you will find a weevil or two compared to grains that have been sprayed with chemicals. They are harmless insects and easily removed. Personally I’d rather pick out a few weevils then eat grains sprayed with pesticides, but that’s just my own ball game. Tip: store grains in the freezer to keep them fresh and insect free!
Hopefully I haven’t completely grossed you out by my bug talk, because I have a fabulous recipe to share!
1 c. dried hulled barley
1/2 c. grated carrots
1/2 c. grated beets
1/4 c. dried cherries (or cranberries)
2 tbs. almond slivers
1 tbs. sunflower seeds
1 tbs. agave nectar syrup
2 tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1. Combine dried barley with 3 c. water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 90 minutes or until grains are soft yet still chewy. ***Or you can use a rice cooker. Mine cooked for about an hour in my rice cooker and came out perfect.
2. Combine agave syrup, orange juice and balsamic vinegar in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
3. Combine cooked barley, grated carrots and beets in large mixing bowl. Pour in sauce and stir to combine.
4. Add nuts, sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Allow salad to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours to fully combine flavors.
This salad is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Barley is extremely high in protein and fiber (1 c. of uncooked barley has 32 g. of dietary fiber 23 g of protein!) and also high in iron, calcium and B vitamins. The flavor is slightly sweet with a tang of citrus. It was delicious served over a giant plate of fresh spinach!
And to give you an idea of how the rest of my Saturday went… some of my tweets…