Chewy,nutty pearl barley stars in this hearty bowl dish
Chewy, nutty, pearl barley isn’t just for soups. Here, we’ve made it the star of a hearty bowl that’s full of contrasting — and surprising — textures and Middle Eastern flavors, with its warm spices and colorful vegetables.
To keep the cooking method easy, we simply boiled the barley. This made the individual grains tender and kept them distinct and light. We tossed the warm barley with a bright lemon-mint dressing so the grains would readily soak it up.
While the barley cooked, we pan-roasted coriander-dusted spears of carrots until charred, sweet and tender. We then threw in crisp snow peas and cooked them until just blistered, so they would retain their green freshness.
Toasting sunflower seeds with cumin, cardamom and a little more coriander gave the dish a warm, aromatic finish. We piled a mound of the dressed barley and vegetables into our bowls, followed by our crunchy seed topping.
Finally, to pull all the components of the bowl together, we needed a drizzle of sauce, and our Tahini Sauce was a creamy, zesty addition. Do not substitute hulled barley or hull-less barley in this recipe.
If using quick-cooking or pre-steamed barley (read the ingredient list on the package to determine this), you will need to decrease the barley cooking time. We also like this bowl topped with avocado.
Barley Bowl with Roasted Carrots and Snow Peas
Start to finish: 1 hour, 10 minutes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
1 ½ cups pearl barley
Salt and pepper
5 carrots, peeled
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
8 ounces snow peas, strings removed, halved lengthwise
⅔ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup Tahini Sauce (recipe follows)
Whisk 2 ½ tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons mint and lemon zest and juice together in large bowl, set aside. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add barley and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. Drain barley, transfer to bowl with lemon-mint mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cover to keep warm.
While barley cooks, halve carrots crosswise, then halve or quarter lengthwise to create uniformly sized pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add carrots and ½ teaspoon coriander and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in snow peas and cook until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to second bowl.
Heat remaining 1 ½ teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add sunflower seeds, cumin, cardamom, remaining ¼ teaspoon coriander, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until seeds are toasted, about 2 minutes; transfer to third bowl.
Divide barley among individual bowls, then top with carrot-snow pea mixture and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with tahini sauce, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon mint, and serve.
Makes about 1 ¼ cups
½ cup tahini
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
Whisk tahini, water, lemon juice, and garlic in bowl until smooth. Season with salt to taste. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature and stir to combine before serving.)
Nutrition information per serving: 513 calories; 262 calories from fat; 29 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 242 mg sodium; 55 g carbohydrate; 13 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 13 g protein.