I love multipurpose recipes like this one: It doubles as both a terrific side dish for roasted chicken or grilled fish AND as a satisfying and nutritious lunch-able salad.
I rediscovered this recipe in a very old issue of Bon Appétit (I have about a decade’s worth stashed on my bookshelves) and was surprised how au courant it is. Back in the mid-1990s when the recipe was published, barley was fairly exotic, a grain that people of a certain age might cook to mush and eat for breakfast, or add to a beef-based soup.
These days, of course, whole grains are the thing. You could swap in any other kind of grain, like farro or emmer or wheat berry (use pearled grains for faster cooking). This hearty barley and vegetable salad recipe makes a ton, so you’ll have plenty leftover to pack for lunch. With its confetti of bright vegetables, it’ll make you feel happy even on the grayest of days.
Hearty barley salad with bell pepper and corn recipe
(makes 6 generous servings)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 cups pearled barley
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced (include white and light green parts)
1/2 cup sliced fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers; reduce heat to medium and add bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the barley and stir to coat with oil; cook, stirring frequently, until it's toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the broth; bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook at a low simmer until the barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Uncover and stir in the corn; cook for 5 minutes. Add the green onions, basil and parsley and stir gently. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.