I've always found there to be something comforting about barley. Whether in barley soup, or barley and mushrooms, the soft doughiness of it has that homey quality that a person can sink their teeth into.
Barley has been cultivated since 8,000 BCE, beginning in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia. Eventually it came to be so important that it was used as part of our measuring system: Edward ll of England decided that an "inch" was equal to three grains of barley, dry and round, placed end to end lengthwise, thus setting up inches, and with that, the official measurements for feet, yard and miles, all based on the humble little grain.
Eating barley is an effective way to help protect against Type 2 Diabetes or prediabetes, which affects more than 80 million Americans. The grain is a wonderful source of soluble fiber (particularly beta-glucan) as well as essential minerals and vitamins. Barley contains fiber throughout the entire kernel, as opposed to many grains that only offer it in the outer bran layer. Soluble fiber also lowers the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol, plus it offers vitamins B3, B1, iron, selenium, copper, and phosphorous.
Here is a recipe for Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad, courtesy of SimplyRecipes.com. When you're all done, you can get your dishes clean with Seventh Generation Free & Clear Automatic Dishwasher Gel, made from a hypoallergenic, plant-derived formula.
Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 1/2 cups barley
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and strained
1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1 cup diced dried apricots
2-3 chopped green onions or scallions
1 cup chopped parsley
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 Tbsp of Ras el Hanout spice mix*
Salt to taste
*Ras El Hanout Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add the barley and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth, water, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the barley is tender, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how old the barley is.
- Strain the cooked barley through a colander or sieve and run cold water over to cool it quickly. Toss and mix in the colander to strain as much water as you can.
- Lay out the barley on a sheet pan and drizzle olive oil over it. Mix to coat well and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the chickpeas, pistachios, apricots, green onions and parsley and mix well. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and mix again. Add the barley and mix. Sprinkle the Ras el Hanout spice mixture over the barley and mix well. Taste, and add salt if needed.
- Let the salad marinate for an hour or so before serving. If the barley has absorbed all the olive oil, drizzle a little more on right before serving.