As well as an array of sweet, sour and savoury flavours, this moist – yet crumbly – grain dish has a variety of textures. Admittedly both carrots and pearl barley are hardly the most exciting ingredients in the world but this salad has proved to be pretty popular at both winter and summer parties and barbeques.
It is a fantastic make-ahead dish as it actually tastes better after the lemon juice and oil from the sundried tomatoes have had chance to permeate deep into the grains of the barley.
Serve it warm or cold and don’t feel limited to just using carrots: crunchy nuggets of celery and raw peppers are also nice.
Rinse the pearl barley before boiling otherwise you might be left with slightly sticky grains; a quick splash of water over the barley – use a sieve – will rid it of the dusty coating. 200g of raw pearl barley doesn’t sound that much for 8 people, but it yields about 600g once cooked.
Ingredients (8 generous servings as a side dish)
1 large white onion
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
½ a mild red chilli (optional)
200g pearl barley
Apple cider vinegar
500g (at least) carrots – coarsely grated
Sundried tomatoes – a 285g jar
400g tin of chickpeas
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
Zest and juice of 2-3 lemons
1-2 red onions – finely diced
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
Fresh coriander to garnish
- Dice the white onion and fry briskly in a dribble of oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes. Add the cumin seeds and chilli, if using, and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Rinse the pearl barley under the tap and add to the onions. Stir well and add some salt and a table spoon of apple cider vinegar. Pour in 1,000 ml of cold water, turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for about 45 minutes; adding the chickpeas a good 5 minutes before the cooking time is complete.
- Once the pearl barley has reached a palatable texture, but still has a nice chew, add all the other ingredients and stir well.
- Turn off the heat and leave to cool, or garnish with coriander and serve warm.