Minted barley and beans

    1 hour 35 min

    The mild, sweet flavour and chewy texture of pearl barley is combined here with black-eyed beans and lots of colourful vegetables. A fresh-tasting tomato and mint dressing adds a summery feel to this wholesome salad. Serve on its own for lunch or supper, with some fresh fruit to follow.

    2 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 1.4 litres (2½ pints) vegetable stock
    • strip of lemon zest
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 225 g (8 oz) baby leeks
    • 1 tsp sunflower oil
    • 225 g (8 oz) pearl barley
    • 1 can black-eyed beans, about 410 g, drained and rinsed
    • 6 firm, ripe plum tomatoes, about 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) in total, cut into thin wedges
    • 140 g (5 oz) baby spinach leaves, shredded
    • 1 bunch spring onions, 85 g (3 oz), halved and shredded
    • sprig of fresh mint to garnish
    • Tomato and mint dressing
    • 2 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
    • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
    • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chervil
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:1hr  ›  Cook:35min  ›  Ready in:1hr35min 

    1. Put the stock in a saucepan with the lemon zest and bay leaf. Bring to a rapid boil, then add the leeks and cook for 2–3 minutes or until just tender. Remove with a draining spoon and refresh briefly in cold water. Cut on the diagonal into 2.5 cm (1 in) lengths. Set aside.
    2. Add the sunflower oil to the stock in the pan and bring back to the boil. Add the pearl barley, then cover and simmer for 30–40 minutes or until tender.
    3. Spoon out 2 tbsp of the stock and reserve, then drain the barley. Discard the lemon zest and bay leaf. Tip the barley into a bowl and leave to cool.
    4. Add the leeks, black-eyed beans, plum tomatoes, spinach and spring onions to the barley and stir gently to mix together.
    5. To make the dressing, put the sun-dried tomatoes, oil, vinegar, garlic, mint, chervil, reserved stock, and salt and pepper to taste into a screwtop jar. Shake well until combined.
    6. Drizzle the dressing over the barley and vegetables and toss to coat thoroughly. Serve at room temperature, garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.

    Another idea

    For a spicy barley salad, add a pinch of saffron strands when cooking the pearl barley and use 1 can red kidney beans, about 410 g, drained and rinsed, rather than black-eyed beans. For the dressing, whisk 1 seeded and finely chopped fresh red chilli and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with the vinegar and garlic, and add chopped fresh coriander and parsley instead of the mint and chervil.

    Plus points

    Barley is low in fat and rich in starchy carbohydrate, and is a good source of B vitamins. It is an excellent food for those with diabetes because it is absorbed slowly. * Although highly refined, weight for weight pearl barley provides more dietary fibre than brown rice. * Spinach contains oxalic acid, which binds with iron, making most of it unavailable to the body. Eating spinach with something that is a good source of vitamin C, such as tomatoes, can increase iron uptake.

    Each serving provides

    Excellent source of copper, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E. Good source of iron, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, zinc. Useful source of calcium, niacin.

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