Eating a salad as my entire entrée makes me feel proud – and I’ve actually found that I sleep better when I don’t eat a heavy dinner. That said, I’ve been on a salad kick. The key to entrée salads for me is to make them filling and diverse.
In this recipe, the barley adds an expected texture and is a more filling surprise than just leafy greens alone. The raw, shaved Brussels sprouts are a nice change from lettuce. In addition to that simple “base” (of barley and Brussels), I need lots of crunch, a bit of sweetness, some umami, and of course, I want it to be different than the salad I may have eaten the day before. In this iteration, the pecans and cranberries add sweetness while the Parmesan and barley add an earthy flavor.
Luckily, the possibilities for salad topping combinations are endless. In the notes section you’ll find substitution inspirations. Similar to last week’s recipe, the ability to mix and match on top of this salad base with different proteins and add-ons makes this a repeat recipe.
Lastly I prefer to make my own dressing so I can adjust acidity as desired and again, play around with different oils, kinds of vinegar, and spices for dozens of combinations. The key to this salad is getting the right ratio of grain to vegetable and crunchy bite to soft bite – once that is perfected, the possibilities really are endless. Enjoy!
Barley & Brussels Sprouts Salad
Prep Time: 30 min
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 CUP BARLEY, COOKED TO PACKAGE SPECIFICATIONS
- 1 LB. BRUSSELS SPROUTS, SHREDDED OR CUT VERY THIN
- JUICE OF ½ LEMON, APPROX. 2-3 TBS
- ¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
- 1 ½ TSP. DIJON MUSTARD
- ½ TSP GARLIC POWDER
- A GENEROUS SPRINKLING OF PEPPER
- SALT, AS NEEDED
- ¼ CUP DRIED CRANBERRIES
- ½ CUP SHREDDED PARMESAN CHEESE
- ½ CUP PECANS
- Dressing the salad early and setting aside will allow time for the dressing to help soften the sometimes tough Brussels sprouts leaves, especially since we are not cooking the Brussels sprouts.
- At first, only mix in ½ of the barley. I kept it this way but you may want to add more, it’s a personal preference but I found this was plenty of the grain.
- Additional options/substitutions include goat cheese in place of Parmesan, Walnuts in place of Pecans, Faro instead of Barley. I would not change the dressing or the Brussels Sprouts as your “green” since they really compliment each other nicely, everything else is a bonus.
- I added shrimp on top to make this feel like a complete meal, in the future I may try adding some bacon as well.