A check of the refrigerator revealed half a cucumber, half a sweet onion, half a bell pepper, and a small amount of barley all needing to be used; missing were lettuce, parsley or any other fresh herbs. My kitchen and my garden were in the midst of summer doldrums on a very hot, very un-air-conditioned day. Still, I was hungry for a salad, so here is what I developed.
Served with a plate of peaches, cherries and blueberries (all on sale that week), it made a great light supper enough for 3; add a little fruit blended yogurt for dessert, and the meal would stretch to serve 4.
Barley Salad for Summer
2 c cooked barley (about 3/4 to 1 cup uncooked)
1 c diced cucumber
1/2 c finely minced sweet onion
1/4 c or more diced bell pepper--use a mixture of colors if available
1 c frozen peas (no need to thaw; just stir in)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 t mixed dried herbs (I used basil, rosemary, thyme and marjoram, a mix I keep ready)
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 T sugar, to taste
3 T olive oil
lemon pepper and/or seasoning salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients and chill several hours or overnight to allow flavors to develop. This will keep a couple of days in the refrigerator, so it is a good one to make ahead.
Broccoli flowerets could be substituted or the peas (if fresh, I would blanch them in the microwave for about 1 minute, until barely tender and bright green). If you have garden-fresh tomatoes, they could be served on the side or diced into the salad just before serving. This is also the kind of salad that would look great for stuffing into great big tomato treasures.
Pearl barley, the form most readily available in most stores, is significantly lower in protein and other nutrients than hulled barley, but the latter is harder to find and does take a little longer to cook. If you use pearl barley--as I did--you might want to add in a few cheese cubes, have some milk to drink or be sure to include some yogurt to up the protein and calcium a little more. Still, even pearl barley is a good food to put on the menu occasionally.