I needed a good side dish to take to a bbq, and wanted to take a pasta salad but was worried that everyone else would do the same, so checked my cabinets and saw other delicious grains like quinoa and red rice, but selected barley as my base. I could easily swap barley for pasta and toss with sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives. Or with cherry tomatoes, basil, and corn kernals. But I wanted something with more vegetables and more protein.
This party was BYOM where the grill was fired up by we were supposed to bring our own grillables. I didn't really want any meat so I wanted to build my salad around some beans. A google search of barley and garbanzo revealed these two recipes which I used as inspiration.
Chickpea, Barley, and Zucchini Salad with Mint and Feta
Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad
1 cup barley
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
1 small zucchini, diced or cut into matchsticks
3 medium carrots, diced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley (I used Italian parsley), chopped
zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon freshly squeeze lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
couple pinches of ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cook barley by toasting over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring periodically, until some kernels are starting to turn golden and it smells nutty. I added 1 cup broth and 2 cups water, but you can use all water or all broth, and not all will be absorbed, so you can use a little less. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes until the kernels are tender all the way through. Cool. Toss with remaining ingredients except cheese. Drizzle with about half of dressing, and toss to coat. Add remaining dressing to taste. If not serving right away, reserve remainder of dressing, and toss just before serving, then sprinkle cheese over top and mix in lightly.