In summertime, when produce is inspiring and abundant, I'm all over big salads - the kind you can mix up and leave in the fridge to dip into for lunch and snacks, or add some grilled chicken, beef or pork to and call it dinner. Grainy salads are my favourite - perfectly portable, they're wilt-resistant, making them perfect for picnics. And whole grains, especially paired with beans, make a nutrient-dense and filling salad, rich in fibre and protein as well as vitamins and minerals.
I was recently served this black bean and barley salad at a lunch hosted by Alberta Barley, and it was fantastic. Barley is the third largest crop in Canada, so it's something I try to eat more of - it's nutrient rich and high in fibre, yet not as heavy as you'd expect. It's inexpensive and easy to cook (boil it for about 40 minutes; the same cooking time as brown rice), and can be refrigerated if you want to cook up a large batch to add to soups, salads, or use as a quick base for a pilaf or other side dish.
This multicoloured salad will make it into our regular summer rotation - feel free to mess with it, adding fruit/veggies/leftover roasted chicken or pork, or swapping the black beans for chickpeas or lentils.
Black Bean & Barley Salad
2 tsp (10 mL) canola oil
½ cup (125 mL) pot or pearl barley
2 cups (500 mL) vegetable stock or water
1 (540 mL) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup (125 mL) corn kernels
¼ cup (50 mL) chopped chives
3 tbsp (45 mL) lime juice
¼ cup (50 mL) olive oil
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
¼ cup (50 mL) shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Add barley and sauté for 3 minutes. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes; drain and cool. In a large bowl, combine cooked barley, beans, yellow pepper, tomatoes, corn and chives. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper; pour over barley mixture and toss. Serve on lettuce topped with shredded cheese. Makes 6 servings.
Nutritional Information (per serving): Calories: 273 (269) Protein: 8 g Carbohydrate: 32 g (31 g) Fibre: 8 g (7 g) Sugars: 3 g (2 g) Fat: 13 g Saturated Fat: 2.5 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 5 mg Sodium: 835 mg (827 mg) Potassium: 170 mg (112 mg)