Hulled barley is a more natural and fibrous alternative to pearled barley because it has its bran still attached. Dried chickpeas (garbonzo beans) are much less expensive than the canned version. The disadvantage that both of these foods have in common is that they take so long to cook and soften. This recipe makes use of the advantages while minimizing the disadvantages by cooking them together in a slow cooker. Plop them in the slow cooker with some chicken or vegetable broth and a few hours later come back to toss them with a delicious combination of herbs, nuts, golden raisins and dressing. The result is a beautiful and absolutely heavenly side dish that is easy, nutritious, and inexpensive.
1 cup hulled barley, uncooked
½ cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water + bullion)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup chow mein noodles (optional)
SLOW COOK: Place barley, chickpeas, and broth in a small slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until soft. Add more liquid if necessary. When done, drain any excess fluid and cool to room temperature.
DRESSING: Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt & pepper. Set aside.
MIX: Place softened barley & chickpeas in a medium sized bowl. Add basil, almonds, raisins, & green onions. Pour dressing over the combination and stir until well-mixed. A sprinkling of chou mein noodles on top adds a nice crunch to the salad, but check the label if you choose to use these, as some are still made with trans fats.
Note: If you would prefer to use pearled barley and canned chick peas, simply cook the pearled barley according to package instructions then mix the cooked barley and canned chick peas with the rest of the ingredients as instructed above.