Pearl barley is simply barley with all of the bran removed. Similar to wheat in terms of nutritional value, this chewy grain is perfect in stews and soups. I have just started using it in salads as it gives a great texture and fills you up! It’s also extremely cheap (around 50p for 500g) so provides a delicious meal without breaking the bank.
I’m also substituting my usual olive oil for a lighter and less fruity oil, rapeseed. This adds a light nutty and earthy flavour, which I think works better in a salad. It also contains 50% less saturated fat than olive oil so better all round really.
Ingredients (serves 4)
150g pearl barley
6 vine ripened tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 small butternut squash, cubed
6 flat mushrooms, sliced
Rapeseed or olive oil for roasting/dressing – I use Hillfarm
9 garlic cloves (8 for roasting and 1 chopped for frying the mushrooms)
1 red chilli, chopped
6 sprigs of rosemary
70g bag of rocket
salt and pepper to season
Method – Pre heat oven to 200degrees
1. Place the tomatoes and squash in two separate roasting dishes. Add the garlic cloves and rosemary. Drizzle with rapeseed oil and balsamic glaze and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until soft
2. Wash the pearl barley well in a colander and place in a pan with cold water (so that the pearl barley is well covered – you may need to add more water during cooking time, if it reduces right down). Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until soft
3. Place the sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a hot pan and fry until lightly toasted (the pumpkin seeds will puff up and the sunflower seeds will brown slightly). Set aside once toasted
4. Remove the tomatoes and squash from the oven and leave to cool slightly
5. Add a tsp of rapeseed oil to a frying pan and heat. Add the chilli and fry for 1 minute. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Add the chopped mushrooms and fry until soft and they have shrunk in size (they will also turn a darker colour)
6. Drain the pearl barley and rinse with cold water. Once drained, mix with the tomatoes and squash in a large salad bowl. Add the seeds and rocket. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and mix well
7. Heat a large griddle pan and remove the woody ends of the asparagus before placing them in the hot pan. Drizzle with rapeseed oil and sprinkle with salt. Fry until soft and charred
8. Serve the salad on individual plates and place the char grilled asparagus in a separate glass to place on the table for sharing. Enjoy!