Barley is one of the crops that farmers love, due to its short growing season and hardy nature. We should love this nutty, wholesome grain too, since it is so good for us. Here it has been given the flavours of the American Deep South, with a range of green vegetables and plenty of spice. Serve it with sausages or lamb kebabs.
For Tex-Mex barley, omit the celery, green pepper and thyme, and add 1 finely chopped fresh red chilli and the finely grated zest of 1 lime in step 3. Add the juice of the lime in place of the lemon juice. * To make braised barley, omit the toasting of the barley, but cook the spring onions, celery, onion and green pepper as in the main recipe. Add ½ tsp each of dried thyme and sage, ½ tsp ground cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper, and saute for 5 more minutes. Add the pearl barley and stock, and cook as in the main recipe. About 10 minutes before the barley is done, add 100 g (3½ oz) small broccoli florets and 100 g (3½ oz) green beans, cut into 2 cm (¾ in) pieces. Before serving, stir in 1 tbsp snipped fresh chives.
Barley has a similar nutrient content to other cereals, with most of the minerals and vitamins in the outer layers. When the outer bran and germ are removed to make pearl barley, there is some loss of vitamins, particularly B1. * Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of top grade olives. Because it is produced with minimal heat and refining, it retains more phytochemicals and essential fatty acids than highly refined oils. * Weight for weight, chillies are richer in vitamin C than citrus fruits such as oranges. However, to gain this nutritional benefit you would have to eat substantially more chillies than you are likely to, or would want, to eat.
C * B6, folate, niacin, copper, iron, zinc