Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bean Salad. WITH BARLEY!

I love barley but I never make it. Heck, unless it's in a soup, I never eat it. Today I decided to go into my first foray into making barley as a major part of a meal.

Enter: Bean and Barley Salad

This salad is crunchy, chewy (in a good way) and filling. It's also incredibly cheap. All these ingredients cost maybe $15, and you wont be using nearly all of it for this recipe. The most expensive ingredients, the vinegar and oil will last for MONTHS.

1 can of mixed beans
1 cup of cooked barley (cook according to the package)
1/2 cucumber diced
2 tbsp diced red onion
1 handful of chopped cilantro
big handful of grape tomatoes, cut in half
balsamic vinaigrette
salt and pepper
baby spinach
Optional: whatever other veggies you might like... hot peppers, olives, maybe a green apple?

Let's do it!
Throw the beans, barley, and veggies (except spinach) plus maybe about 2 tbsp of vinaigrette and a squeeze of lemon into a leak-proof container. Give it a taste. Season with a dash of salt, and more lemon, pepper and vinaigrette as needed. In an effort to use less salt, try adding more balsamic or lemon instead. What you're looking for is a nice, full flavour, without destroying your kidneys. Let this marinate in the fridge. Shake it up every couple of hours to really let the flavours meld. Or eat it right away, whatever.

If you've never made balsamic vinaigrette before, it's very simple. 1:1 ratio of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Put in a jar and shake. Because my coworkers don't steal food, I have a bottle of both balsamic and olive oil in the cupboard. I put them in a jar and shake before pouring over my salads. Yes, you're also supposed to add some mustard, chopped garlic and salt, but I don't always do it and it ends up just fine. I tend to put a little more balsamic than olive oil, but only because I love sour flavours.

Lunch it up!
If you're going to eat your lunch within maybe 4 hours, you can throw your spinach in a container, then top with the bean salad and some more dressing. The dressing will season the spinach without making it too soggy. If you love your spinach crunchy, package it in a separate container. If you can, bring some vinaigrette in a jar so you can season it to taste when you get to work. I tend to drench my salads in dressing, particularly balsamic vinaigrette, thus my salad-dressing supplies at work.

There you have it, a healthy lunch that combines whole grains, protein, dark greens and vitamin C! This recipe will yield about 4 servings, which makes it a great thing to make on a Sunday night and eat throughout the week.

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