Middle Eastern barley salads likely made their way to America as did most things—through immigrant settlers. With its incredible versatility, barley appears in everything from bread to stews and soups. Barley was one of the first cultivated grains and dates back 10,000 years. With a long history of cultivation in the Middle East, barley salads from the region often include nuts, fresh herbs and lemon, as in this recipe.
The spice blend ras el hanout which seasons this dish hails from North Africa. There are many variations on the traditional blend, but most include cinnamon, cumin, paprika, clove, cardamom, and coriander. Using small amounts of any of these spices can be substituted for ras el hanout. If preserved lemon is not available, use lemon zest and a little extra salt. Fresh lemon juice gives this hearty and crunchy salad a bright punch of flavor.
Recipe Servings: 6
- 3 cups cooked barley (prepared per package instructions)
- 1 cup almonds
- ½ cup pistachios
- ½ preserved lemon, finely minced
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp ras el hanout (or ⅛ tsp each cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and cayenne)
- Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil to large skillet and heat to medium.
- Add diced onion and carrot, cooking until onion is translucent and carrot starts to soften.
- Remove onion and carrots from skillet and return pan to heat.
- Add nuts and toast 3–4 minutes.
- Add in barley, breaking up any chunks and cook until heated through.
- Place barley and nuts in a large mixing bowl. Add carrot and onion.
- Add remaining ingredients—cilantro, lemon juice, preserved lemon and spices. Toss well.
- Check seasonings. Add more lemon juice, salt or pepper if desired.
- Eat warm or at room temperature.
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