This refreshing salad combines barley, a satisfying, nutty grain, with fresh vegetables. Flavored with fresh mint, parsley, garlic, lemon and olive oil. It’s similar to tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern dish traditionally made with bulghur wheat. Try this delicious salad as a light meal all on its own, or as a wonderful accompaniment to other dishes.
So what is Barley?
Barley is a cereal whole grain with a chewy texture and mild nutty flavor, packed with nutrients and has one of the lowest glycemic loads of any grain.
It’s the seed of a type of grass that grows in temperate climates throughout the world and one of the first grains to have been farmed by ancient civilizations. In fact, archeological evidence suggests that barley was grown in Egypt over 10,000 years ago.
Barley’s fiber is a rich source of beta glucan, a substance that helps control and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) by binding to bile acids. It may also reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. Barley seems to slow stomach emptying, this could help keep blood sugar stable and create a sensation of being full, which might help to control appetite thus aid in weight loss. Studies have shown that eating barley can reduce constipation, improve symptoms of certain bowel conditions and increase the number of beneficial gut bacteria.
Barley contains many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s a rich source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). The phosphorus, calcium, copper, magnesium, and zinc in barley all contribute to improved bone structure and strength. Niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, iron, magnesium, and selenium all enhance the processes of cell formation, such as carrying oxygen through the blood, and the functioning of the immune system. Barley is a good source of all these nutrients.
Barley contains betaine, which the body can convert to choline. Choline is another nutrient that may help reduce inflammation. Choline helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. It also helps maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids the transmission of nerve impulses, and assists in the absorption of fat.
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup pearl barley
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach
- 1 red onion, sliced thin
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 tomato, seeded and diced
- 1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 1 cup chick peas
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (or 1/8 cup dried mint)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3-4 cloves garlic, mashed
- Salt to taste
- Bring the water to a boil . Add barley and salt. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Drain well and place in a medium bowl.
- Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over barley.
- Allow barley to cool, then add the spinach, onions, tomato, cucumber, red pepper, chick peas, parsley and mint.
- Mix well and chill for several hours before serving.