Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lunchbox Upgrade: Mediterranean Barley Salad

For those of us working the 9 to 5 grind, lunchtime can be a very trying time. I'm not being dramatic, I swear. See, around 12 o'clock a very real internal struggle happens. The struggle is between eating that very sad looking sandwich or boring salad sitting in your lunchbox or being weak and spending a lot of unnecessary money at one of the various lunch spots in the area.

For a while I thought leftover dinners would do the trick--they'd be warm and satisfying and something different every day. Sometimes, though, leftovers just fall flat. And that healthy salad we threw together the night before? Sometimes it just does not keep us satisfied until dinnertime (am I right?!)

This Mediterranean Barley Salad is the perfect lunchbox upgrade for anyone who needs something new and exciting to look forward to. Barley is chewy and nutty, a fulfilling whole grain that goes beautifully with roasted red peppers, sauteed zucchini, and tangy feta cheese. I dress this salad with a lovely, simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Mediterranean flavors are some of my favorite to work with. Beyond the amazing flavor in this salad, the best part about it is that it is equally delicious slightly warmed or chilled. It makes a satisfying lunch or a very interesting side dish for dinner with grilled chicken.

Mix up your lunchtime routine and give this salad a try! This recipe will make about 4 servings. Cook it up Sunday night then portion it into 4 separate containers and store in the fridge for an easy lunch solution the whole week!

Here's what you need for Mediterranean Barley Salad* (Print Recipe!)

1 cup barley
2 1/2 cups water
1 medium zucchini, chopped into half moons
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jarred roasted red pepper, sliced and chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch of dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish

Here's what you do

Combined the barley and water in a medium pot with a bit of salt. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until the barley is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the zucchini and saute until golden brown. Do not overcook - you want the zucchini to still have some texture and not be overly mushy.

In a large bowl, combined the barley, zucchini, roasted red peppers, and feta cheese. Toss well to combined. In a small mason jar, add the vinegar, olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. Pour over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated in the dressing. Top with parsley. If desired, prepare a little more dressing for serving over the next few days.

Enjoy immediately while still warm or chilled for up to 4 days.

*Gas Stove Girl original recipe

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