Hearty and Healthy — Barley and Chickpea Pilaf
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligent an art” La Rochefoucauld
Cooked grains in the fridge are a blessing for instant meals. They are the answer to a satisfying dinner after a long work day, for a lazy afternoon, or just an instant gratification for something special. I am a big believer in keeping some on hand whenever possible. They are an absolute lifesaver in time of need.
Barley is one of my favorite whole grains. Nutty in taste and chewy in texture, it looks like wheat berry but is lighter in color. You can find hulled barley or pearl barley in natural food stores. Hulled barley is more nutritious because only its outermost hull is removed, but it takes longer to cook. Pearl barley, on the other hand, with its outer husk and bran layers removed, cooks in less time than hulled barley; but it is comparatively less nutritious.
I think cooked barley is like a blank canvas as many other grains are. Paint it as you like. Enjoy it in soups and stews with some vegetables, add it to salads with some greens, or mix it with fruits, nuts, and honey. It is satisfying any ways with its numerous health advantages.
Barley water has its own health benefits. No need to let it go to waste. You can make lemonade with it. Something my mom used to make often in summer months. I wish I had appreciated it more then. Knowing its health benefits now, I think she knew what she was doing in her own simple ways. You’ll be amazed by its wonders on a hot summer day. It’s quite refreshing and cooling. Also, it’s known to get rid of kidney stones and flushes toxins out of our bodies.
Having some cooked barley in the fridge yesterday made my lunch a snap to prepare. A few other staples from the pantry were all I needed to put together a simple pilaf. I added some garbanzo beans to it for protein. Dill and sumac with a squeeze of lemon gave it a flavorful punch. Then I finished it with sweet red peppers and a handful of arugula. Whole grains, protein, and vegetables made this pilaf a perfect healthy meal ready to take to work or enjoy at a picnic.
Picnic and outdoors seemed liked a good plan to me. I packed barley pilaf and some homemade yogurt with blueberries and honey and spent a quiet afternoon at a nearby farm amongst rows of green fields.
Nature, silence, and a bowl of barley pilaf– a serene picnic experience, and I enjoyed it in the company of some squirrels and birds. A wonderful way to connect with nature and my little friends!
½ cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cup water
2 tablespoons oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sumac
½ teaspoon dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh
lemon juice to taste
½ cup red bell pepper, diced small
Handful of baby arugula
Cook barley in water for 20-25 minutes or until done. Drain in a colander if all the water is not absorbed. (Follow the package directions. Cooking time will depend on the variety of barley.) Set aside and let it cool a little.
Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic, barley, garbanzo beans, salt, paprika, sumac, and dill. Stir gently to combine all the ingredients well. Cook for 3-4 minutes on low heat.
Add a squeeze of lemon to taste. Mix in red pepper and arugula just before serving. Combine gently. Transfer to a serving dish.