Time was when asparagus was only available in the spring. And though now it’s in many markets year-round, it’s best (and least expensive) in spring, its true season. I still prefer to make this delectable salad and other asparagus dishes when it appears locally in spring. The addition of peas, cucumbers, and dill also give this barley and asparagus salad a spring-y flavor.
Because barley is so sturdy and pleasingly chewy, this is a nice salad for potlucks and outdoor meals. It can also be served on its own as a first course at more formal dinners when you’ve got company. As the weather warms up, this can also be a side-by-side dish with a potato salad or bean salad. For an easy meal, serve this tasty salad with veggie burgers.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 166 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 280mg Carbohydrates: 30g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 9g Protein: 3g
Barley, one of the most ancient of cultivated grains, is most commonly available in the pearl variety, the kind you’re most likely to find in supermarkets. Searching a bit further afield, you might find pot barley in natural foods stores and food co-ops. Pot barley is less refined, retaining more of the natural fiber and bran. Both are mild-tasting, pleasantly chewy, and versatile.
Basic cooked barley: Use 3 cups water per 1 cup of pearl barley or 3 1/2 cups water per 1 cup of pot barley. Rinse the barley well in a fine sieve. Bring water to a rapid simmer in a medium saucepan, stir in the barley, and return to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 35 to 45 minutes. Here are a few ideas for using it:
- Barley is, of course, a classic soup grain. Add uncooked barley to long-simmering soups like Tomato-Barley Vegetable Soup for extra heartiness. Add cooked barley to cold summer soups for a satisfying texture. It’s especially good in cold cucumber and potato soups.
- Use barley as a change of pace from rice in pilafs and casseroles.
- Barley is a fantastic base for marinated grain salads like this one, or combined with beans and/or raw vegetables.