I used to work in the Aramark building in Center City Philadelphia and they had an excellent cafe on the 15th floor. I became obsessed with this super simple barley salad that they would have in their snack case. It was so fresh and light that it would really be a super refreshing lunch option on those days when you were dragging waiting for 5pm to roll around.
Albeit, I have made this recipe my own, as I do with all of my recipes, but the inspiration definitely came from that cafe on the 15th floor.
The lemon zest and light citrus dressing really brighten this dish up. It is a super delicious option for meal prep too, as it keeps in the fridge for a good week. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
2 cups dry hulled barley
6 cups water
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp black pepper
2 tsps dried oregano
1 whole onion, quartered at root
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup baby spinach, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Add 6 cups of water and 2 cups of barley to a large pot. To that pot add 1 TBSP of kosher salt, 1/2 TBSP black pepper, oregano, onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Give it a light stir, put over a medium high flame with a lid covering the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally and simmer for about 45 minutes until the barley is tender.
Once the barley has cooked and absorbed all of the liquid, remove from heat and dump out on a large cookie sheet. Spread the barley mixture into a thin layer and begin to remove the carrots, celery, onion and garlic pieces. Allow to cook for about an hour, or you can pop the tray into the fridge and let it cool for about 25 minutes.
White the barley is cooling, chop up the tomatoes and cucumbers. Chiffonade the spinach. If you are not sure how to chiffonade, check out this tutorial on YouTube: How to Chiffonade Spinach
To make the dressing, pour 1/4 cup of olive oil, the juice and zest of 2 lemons and 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper. Whisk briskly to combine, tasting for salt and pepper preferences.
Combine all ingredients in a pretty serving bowl and toss to combine and coat everything. Check one more time for salt and pepper.
This will keep in an airtight container for 1 week. If it becomes a little dry, do not be afraid to freshen it up with another squeeze of fresh lemon juice!
Enjoy! And as always, get your asses in the kitchen!
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