I have fallen in love with the nutty taste and texture of barley since my nutrition studies. It wasn't a staple in my diet, but when I discovered that it is high in resistant starch and fibre for gut health, I gave it a try, and it has now become a regular on the menu. This is one of our favourite recipes, and my husband requests this for dinner the night before a marathon event or hard training, as he notices the difference it makes to his endurance. It contains a great combination of flavours and is delicious as a side dish or on its own.
4 medium-large fresh beetroot (~750-800 g), washed
1 red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup pearl barley, washed and drained
2 ½ cups water (or vegetable stock)
Juice of 1 lemon
100 g spinach or rocket
½ cup pumpkin seeds, dry roasted (1-5 minutes at 200oC)
100 g feta
2 tablespoons capers (optional)
Preheat oven to 180oC. Cut beetroot and onion into small wedges and combine with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Place on baking tray and roast for 40-60 minutes until tender.
While the beetroot is cooking, place pearl barley in a pan with water and bring to a simmer. Leave to cook until tender (about 30-40 minutes), until all liquid disappears. It will still have a ‘nutty’ texture when cooked. Combine barley with lemon juice.
Place spinach or rocket on a large serving plate, sprinkle with barley, then beetroot, pumpkin seeds, feta and capers.
Serve as a side dish or as a lunch option.
Optional additions: avocado, radish, red cabbage, mint, parsley, pistachios, orange zest, orange segments.