I have to admit I’m having a bit of a love affair with barley this year. I’ve used it in soups for ages but it wasn’t until a recent barley seminar got me excited about barley again that I was reminded of its incredible deliciousness and impressive nutritional value. I love it in risotto, as a substitute for pasta, as well as in salads of all kinds; that educational encounter really inspired me to think about using barley in lots of different ways. When I spied the first of the new crop of apricots (loaded with beta carotene and fibre) at a market this week, I was excited to incorporate them into a barley salad. This recipe is ideal for multi-day meals – you know, the ones you enjoy for dinner one evening and then rely on for a couple of lunches throughout the week. The citrus flavours really brighten up the neutral barley and the fruit and veggies add both texture and taste. The flavours are subtle yet intriguing and you can easily add more heat if you prefer. Just for fun, I made this salad a second time with peaches instead of apricots and it was equally delicious…so you could make it twice as often and still feel like you have some variety in your menu!
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 – 2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce *
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced
2 medium or 3 large apricots, pitted and diced**
2 tablespoons minced chives or green onion tops
1/4 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/4 cup raw walnut pieces
* if you don’t have sweet chili sauce on hand, substitute with 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup mixed with 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
* unless the skin is tough and wrinkly, there is no need to peel the apricots – just wash them well to get rid of some of the fuzz
- Put the barley in a sieve and rinse well under cold water.
- Add the barley to a large pot; cover with two inches of cold water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the barley is tender.
- While barley is cooking, prepare dressing by mixing orange juice, lime juice, salt and sweet chili sauce in a jar with a tight lid. Add olive oil and shake vigorously to blend.
- Chop red pepper, apricots and chives; set aside. Put peas in a serving bowl. When barley is tender, drain well in a colander then pour hot, drained barley over peas in the bowl to cook them slightly.
- Add red pepper, apricots and half of the chives to the barley mixture. Drizzle dressing over top and toss well to combine.
- Garnish with remaining chives and walnuts. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.
Serves 3 – 4 and can easily be doubled or tripled.