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No-Meat Protein Salad: Barley with Chickpeas

Barley, one of the oldest grains in the world, has a nutty taste, is high in beneficial fiber, and is a rich source of essential nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals like manganese and phosphorus. It also tastes good. It's chewy and absorbs flavors from liquids quite well. That's why barley is great in salads, like this one with chickpeas. The chickpeas, too, are nutrient dense, with protein, fiber, folate, and minerals like iron. In fact, even without meat, this salad, which can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold, is incredibly filling as well as tasty. Plenty of lemon and herbs give the salad freshness and zest. And if you still crave meat, go ahead. The salad would be great with grilled chicken.

Barley and Chickpea Salad

Barley and Chickpea Salad

2 cups of pearled barley

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 14-16 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzos) drained and rinsed well

1/2 cup of chopped green onion

1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint

3/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley (Italian is best)

1/2 cup of feta cheese (optional)

Salad greens of your choice (optional)

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the barley and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the barley, partially covered until it's tender--35-45 minutes. Drain the barley and let it cool to room temperature. Save half the barley for another use. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, lemon pepper, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well blended. Stir in the remaining half of the barley and chickpeas. Gently fold in the green onion, mint, and parsley until combined. Serve the salad "as is" or atop the salad greens of your choice. If you'd like, sprinkle the feta cheese on top of the salad.

No Meat Protein Barley and Chickpea Salad

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