Yes, I’m still alive and well. Yes, eatwildgreens.com is still active. Yes, you are still subscribed to the email list. I apologize for the long gap since my last blog post, but I’ve been working on a cookbook (which should be completed by the end of 2019) and this blog has been on the back burner. I do plan on adding more content to this blog moving forward, so stay tuned. Also, if you haven’t already, follow me on Instagram (@eat.wild.greens), as I post food photos and health/wellness tips more frequently.
I digress. The recipe in front of you was a spur-of-the-moment creation inspired by a perfect storm of factors: the weather is getting warm here in Denver (making a cold salad more appealing); I’ve had a jar of dried barley sitting in my kitchen for months; and I caught part of the movie Gladiator on TV recently. Now you’re probably wondering, “What do gladiators have to do with any of this?” Well, here’s a little fun fact: Roman gladiators were also known as hordearii, which translates to “the barley men.” They were called this because they ate a predominately vegetarian diet based on beans and, you guessed it, barley!
Whether they knew it or not, these professional fighters were presumably reaping the performance-enhancing benefits of a plant-based diet—a trend we’re seeing more and more as athletes become aware of the research showing that a plant-based diet can speed up recovery time, build lean muscle, reduce inflammation, and improve exercise endurance. A plant-based diet also happens to be the best option to reduce one’s risk of developing various chronic diseases, and reflects the diet pattern consumed by the healthiest, longest-living populations in the world. These gladiators would have probably lived healthy and relatively long lives, if only they had chosen a less lethal profession.
Although the barley in this salad was inspired by the Roman gladiator’s diet, this recipe includes other healthy Mediterranean ingredients and flavors. It’s a perfect side dish to bring to a summertime gathering, but it can also hold its own as a light, fresh, and nutritious entrée. Enjoy!
- Hulled barley is a great source of unrefined carbohydrate, fiber, and plant-based protein. It’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium, thiamin, and magnesium.
- Garbanzo beans are rich in potassium and fiber—two nutrients that most Americans don’t get enough of. They’re also a good source of protein, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
- Herbs, such as parsley, are a trademark ingredient of Mediterranean cooking and are jam-packed with nutrients. Include herbs, fresh or dried, as often as possible when cooking.
- Onions and garlic belong to the allium vegetable family—a family know for containing many potent anti-cancer and anti-heart disease compounds. Plus, the add great flavor!
- 1.5 cups of dried hulled barley (choose hulled over pearled)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 – 28oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ of a medium cucumber, diced
- ¾ cup of chopped tomatoes (about three medium roma tomatoes)
- 1 cup of chopped fresh green beans (optional)
- 1 cup of lightly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2-3 tbsp of minced red onion
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 3 tbsp of capers
- ¼ cup of sliced Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup of chopped banana peppers
- 1 15-oz can of artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (or sub ½ tsp each of dried basil and oregano)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Juice from one lemon
- Soak the barley in water for at least an hour. Rinse and drain it, then add it to a pot with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the barley is cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid. Stir frequently, especially toward the end of cooking. Although the barley will be a little wet/slimy, which is what it’s supposed to be like, try to pour out or cook off any excess liquid.
- While the barley is cooking, add the rest of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the cooked barley, stir it all together, and enjoy