Whole grains are the carb darling of the 21st century. Like it or not, they’re chock full of nutritional benefits, and they’re worth some attention in the kitchen and the dining room. Most of us likely think of substituting whole wheat flour into baked goods to up our whole grain quota, but there are so many more delicious ways to incorporate the benefits of these superfoods into your diet. Lorna Sass’s Whole Grains Every Day Every Way is a great place to start. In addition to a primer on everything from amaranth to job’s tears to quinoa, it’s got more than 150 great recipes to spark your imagination.
I love tabouleh, a Middle Eastern salad packed with parsley, mint, tomatoes and cucumbers, and I love the chewy, nutty, heartiness of barley, so when I saw this recipe that replaces the traditional bulghur with barley, I thought I’d give it a go. Besides the unfortunately bitter cucumber I used, it was a delicious substitute. This is a simple, familiar place to start, but certainly you’ll want to try the corn grits with collard greens and andouille, the popcorn crusted catfish, the barley risotto with wild mushrooms, or the coconut-black rice pudding. There’s a world of delicious whole grains to discover right here at the library.
4 c cooked hulled or hull-less barley*
2 c tightly packed finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
2 c peeled, seeded, diced cucumbers
2 c diced plum tomatoes
½ c tightly packed finely chopped fresh mint
¼ c fruity olive oil
¼ c freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust the seasonings. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
*Sass includes instructions on the best cooking methods for each of the grains in her book. If you don’t have the book right in front of you, and you want to make this anyway, I suggest you look up Alton Brown’s baked barley recipe. Google it.