During the week, I pack myself and my husband the same lunch every day. There are small variations, but it's always some type of sandwich, fruit, vegetable and yogurt. We rarely have leftovers from dinners because I like to cook something new each night. On the weekends, lunch becomes a thorn in my side. I usually go on longer runs in the morning, so I need something more substantial than what I usually eat, but I don't want to make something too big. Since I'm often running errands around lunch time on the weekend, I tend to stop at a deli or sandwich type restaurant because I'm at a loss for what to make. However, when I'm home, I seek out some type of grain salad, the perfect balance between a load of vegetables with some whole grain carbs.
Last week I saw this recipe on Dawn's blog, and she told me she thought I'd really like it. She was absolutely correct, I loved it! The barley adds a great chewy but soft texture, the chickpeas give a nice protein punch, the apricots add a nice sweet flavor to the otherwise savory spices and lemon flavors. I love Moroccan spices, they're so versatile in that they tie together sweet and savory dishes by highlighting the different ingredients in harmony.
And since I'm on the subject of Dawn and her blog, Florida Coastal Cooking, I'm going to sing her praises! If you like the style of my cooking and the way I blog, I know you'll also love FCC. Dawn is not a vegetarian, but she limits her meat and only uses local and/or organic, grass-fed meat and fish her family catches. She is so positive, happy, and personable (for the internet!), and when you read her blog you feel like you're chatting with a friend. She is definitely a super-mom, her daughter has many food allergies, so she also has gluten/soy/dairy free recipes in the blog as well. I sincerely hope you check out her blog and become a regular reader, if you aren't already!
Back to the recipe - I did make a few changes, just because of what I had on hand. I used cashews rather than pistachios, and I left out the parsley because I didn't have any. For the spice mixture, Dawn recommends Vindaloo seasoning, or lists proper measurements of the mixture. I used the very last bit of the Moroccan spice mixture my sister got for me when she was in Tangier last spring, which I'm certain is a similar mixture.
Tips and Trades
-Peaches and other stone fruit are often on the Dirty Dozen list, don't forget this when buying dried! I used Organic Turkish Apricots from Oh! Nuts that I purchased in a recent order.
-Barley takes around an hour to cook, so if you're making it once, why not make double or triple the amount you need, store it in freezer safe containers and keep on hand so you've always got some prepared.
- While fruit you peel is generally safe to buy non-organic, when using the zest, organic is best!
Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad
1 c. pearled barley
1 c. vegetable stock
1 c. water
1 tsp. EVOO
Salt and pepper
2 c. cooked chick peas (or 1 15 oz. can drained and rinsed)
1/4 c. cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped
4 scallions, green and white parts, minced (about 1/2 c.)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. Vinadloo or Moroccan spice mix
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
Heat a soup pot over medium heat.
Add EVOO and barley, stir to toast barley, do not burn.
After 2-3 minutes, add stock and water.
Bring to a boil, turn to low, cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes, depending on your barley.
When barley is cooked, pour into a mesh sieve and set aside to drain while you prepare other ingredients.
Mix all other salad ingredients in a large bowl, mix well.
Add barley, toss well to coat, add more EVOO if the salad seems dry.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings and serve.
Note: I served this over a large bed of mixed baby greens and added one more squeeze of a lemon half.