Monday, April 20, 2009

Pearl Barley Protein & Fiber Flavor Fest ...

So, unfortunately I am travelling and I just cannot get my camera to do that wifi upload thing ... so no foto for this post just yet ... I am at my friend Jen's and we are doing some healthy cooking together so I can share a few favorites that are super healthy and keep well ...

Tonight, in addition to making two of the three soups that I blogged about in the Bad Economy Broccoli Stem Soup post, I decided to make a grain & lentil based salad that was a kitchen leftovers inspiration a month or so ago. This salad is rich in protein & fiber, plus a bunch of nutrients and can be a main dish for a vegetarian meal or served as a hearty side for a larger dinner or picnic. Served cold, it keeps & travels well:)

The necessity is the mother of invention story of the salad went something like this.

Long week already ... leaving work on Wednesday night at 8PM ... look at my calendar to prepare for the next day and ... oh no ... we have that 'fun' pot luck planned ... darn ...

No time to shop ... super tired and not feeling energetic ... will just make pasta salad ... quick ... favorite ... easy and serves many. Decided.

Arrive at home. Only spaghetti in the house. Crap.

Rummage. Ponder. Experiment. Success!!!

Pearl Barley, Lentil and Veggie Salad with Feta (long, but easy prep ... you can multitask)

  • 1 Cup Pearl Barley, cooked to package instructions (about 2 hours)

  • 1/3 Cup Dried Lentis, cooked to package instructions (about 30 mins)

  • 1 zucchini, raw, small dice

  • 20 or so grape tomatoes, quartered - you can use a full tomato but I find the grape sweeter

  • 1/4-1/2 cup Feta, crumbled ... low fat is fine too

  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts, raw

  • Basic Balsamic Dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic + a hearty squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

  • 1 tsp each Low Fat Sour Cream & Dijon Mustard

  • 1 tsp each dried Basil & Oregano, or use the Gourmet Garden tubes if you got em

  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Once the lentils & barley are cooked and you've diced/prepped all your other ingredients, combine all the main ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Add the dressing to the salad ingredients and mix until well coated and distributed.

Serve alongside your favorite dishes in lieu of pasta salad ... this recipe is a lot healthier. Approximate nutritional info based on my estimates that this makes about 8 good sized servings: 200 calories 6 g fiber 7.6 g fat 6.6 g protein

Variations on this recipe could include:

  • Add sundried tomatoes, increases fat content & flavor

  • Replace lentils with black beans, replace basil & oregano with cilantro, and add bell pepper

  • Replace raw zucchini with roasted zucchini, replace pine with walnuts, replace feta with blue cheese and add craisins for a festive fall salad
Whatever your personal preference ... consider adding this as a tasty and healthy side dish when refined carbs just won't do:)