One of my favourite summer salads. Find out why 😉
Since we were kids, our Italian mums marked the beginning of summer with one recipe: ‘insalata di riso’.
This is a cold rice salad with mix-pickled vegetables. Since in my family we pay attention to what we eat heath wise, we modified the original recipe (light but high in calories) by using our own fresh vegetables over the years. I also got a bit bored of the rice so I decided to substitute the rice with my favourite cereal: barley.
I love the flavour and texture of barley. It’s chewy with pasta-like consistency but small like rice, yet easy to digest. You can cook it until soft to use in soups or leave it hard for pasta style. It also goes along with almost any vegetables and meat! Am I making my point? 😉
Oh wait, don’t forget the healthy benefits of this yummy cereal! Barley’s nutritional fame is based on being a very good source of molybdenum, manganese, dietary fibre and selenium. It’s a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin. You can find more nutritional facts at Whole Grains Council.
Yet another reason to increase your intake of barley is that, in addition to its fibre, it also provides numerous protective actions against cardiovascular risk factors like type 2 diabetes.
You could say that this barley salad has nothing to do with the original rice salad and you are right! I basically took inspiration from it and made my own recipe with only ingredients that I like and so can you.
I love the combination of cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, but I’m also crazy for green salad. In this case, the standard green salad doesn’t fit so rocket salad is the best match.
What I noticed over time, while developing the best combination of ingredients for this recipe, is that sometimes it lacks in flavour. It could taste incomplete probably because I’m not a fan of heavy-rich dressing. So I found the secret –not so secret anymore- ingredient that makes it perfect: Herbs de Provence.
A mix of: thyme, rosemary, basil, anise, marjoram, sage and lavender flowers. Add a pinch of these herbs and let take the flavour for 15 min before serving.
If you are not a fan of all these herbs altogether just add a pinch of oregano. It’s amazing too, but I encourage you to try Herbs de Provence first.
I love this recipe because it feels me up quickly and for long without being heavy on my stomach. Try it and let me know in the comments what you think.
If I didn’t make myself clear why I love barley salad for my summer lunches and dinners here there is another reason. The beauty of this salad is that it can become non-veg by adding meat or fish as you please. Sometimes when I need a substantial meal I add tuna or chicken chunks. Other times meat slices. And you? How do you like it? Let me know down in the comments section. I’d love to know your own version!
Tips: you can cook the barley the night before; add the fresh vegetables the next day and serve cold from the fridge.
- 200 g barley
- 1 litre water
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
- 15 pitted black olives
- 15 cherry tomatoes
- 250 g rocket salad
- 1 mozzarella
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Pinch of Herb de Provence
- Salt and pepper
- Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add the barley and rock salt. Cover and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and let stand until cool down.
- Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, cut in half the tomatoes and the black olives. Cut the mozzarella in chunks. Top with the dressing and set aside for 15 min. Then add the barley when its cooled.