Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chicken and Barley Greek Salad

One of my favorite grains is barley. I love the way it can be malted into a delicious, refreshing beer that quenches my thirst at the end of a summer (or winter or fall or spring) day. :)

When it comes to cooking with barley, I used to classify it with hearty stews like beef and barley in the crockpot. Perfect for the winter months. However, a few years ago I came across this cold barley salad in a Cooking Light magazine. I love the flavors of a Greek salad-- the salty feta cheese with the refreshing dressing and the pop of black olives. I thought this salad was be a perfect way to turn barley into a yummy summer salad. Boy, did Cooking Light do it right! This is the second (or is it third?) time I've made this salad. It is great because you can make the large batch on the weekend for dinner and continue to eat it for lunch throughout the week. You may find that the cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers get a little soggy by the end of the week, but my guess is it won't last that long. It never does in my house; that's for sure!

Chicken and Barley Greek Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp olive oil
3 cups chicken broth (fat free, low sodium, preferred)
2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 1/2 cup cucumber, cubed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red bell pepper (or any color), cubed
1/2 cup feta cheese (reduced fat, preferred)
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced

Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet over med high heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes on each side until browned. Add 1 cup broth, cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Discard broth and shred chicken when cool enough to handle.

Bring the other 2 cups of broth to a boil in a large pan. Add barley, cover, reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork and cool.

Combine chicken, barley, cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, cheese and olives in a large bowl.

Whisk the olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, seasonings, garlic and vinegar in another bowl. Add the dressing to the larger bowl and toss to combine. Cover and chill in fridge until ready to eat.

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