Barley is such a wonderful grain; it's very user friendly and can be served warm or at room temperature. Similar to wheat berries, it is a nutrient rich grain that has a slightly chewy texture. Barley is a good source of fiber, selenium, tryptophan, copper, manganese, and phosphorus, while being low in calories. I usually add 1/2 cup of hulled barley to my soup pots throughout the winter. I found this healthy, make-ahead, vegetarian salad on Foodandwine.com.Barley Salad with Parsley and Walnuts
1 1/4 cups pearled barley
1 cup walnut halves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup ricotta, crumbledPreheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the barley over high heat until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the barley and rinse under cold water to cool thoroughly. Drain again, shaking out the excess water.
Meanwhile, spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Coarsely chop the nuts.
In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil, garlic and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Add the barley, parsley and ricotta and toss gently. Add the toasted walnuts, toss again and serve.
Notes: I cooked the barley for 45 minutes rather than 25, and used feta cheese instead of ricotta and it was delicious. I had it for breakfast the next morning, after all it is a cereal grain, and enjoyed it just as well cold.