This light, yet hearty roasted fennel and barley salad paired with a citrus dressing will keep you feeling satisfied this spring season!
The whole truth about whole grains
Whole grains are getting a bad reputation recently thanks to the hard-to-miss gluten-free food trend. But health experts can all agree, if you are not truly sensitive or allergic to gluten, or have a diagnosis for Celiac disease, why miss out on these chewy and nutritious grains?
Celiac disease is a serious and unfortunate autoimmune disease that affects about 1% of Americans. While gluten sensitivity is not something to take lightly, it is more difficult to truly diagnosis. Gluten sensitivity can cause very uncomfortable symptoms, such as fatigue, joint pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms. If you think you could be sensitive to gluten, I highly recommend seeking your physician or Registered Dietitian for professional advice, as there is a ton of misinformation from celebrities and the internet these days. If you are one of the three million Americans with Celiac disease or have a sensitivity, aim for delicious whole grains that are naturally gluten free, like quinoa, brown rice, and amaranth.
Whole grains, whether with or without gluten, are a carbohydrate-rich nutrition powerhouse! These beautiful plants are loaded with fiber, folate, minerals like selenium and phosphorous, and protein, making them a must-have for your daily meal routine. Barley, the grain used in this roasted fennel salad, is one of the best sources of fiber among other whole grains. Packing in almost 8g fiber and 6g protein per 1/4 cup serving, this grain will make your stomach satisfied! Feel free to visit the Whole Grains Council for an excellent nutrition breakdown and background on whole grain nutrition.
Roasted Fennel and Barley Salad
My experience with roasted fennel has mainly been mixed in pasta or as a side dish with other vegetables. Fennel, in my opinion, is the main star! This vegetable has flavors of anise and licorice which makes it an excellent food pairing. Flavors from citrus and chives in the dressing make a refreshing sidekick to this all-star fennel. To save time in this recipe, roast the fennel while the barley is cooking. Or, if you prefer, cook the barley ahead of time (say yes to meal prep!).
Just like oats and rice, barley comes in multiple forms. Pearl barley, the most common type, is smoother and softer due to the outer hull being removed. With the outer part removed, the cooking time is shorter. Compared to the smoother pearl barley, hulled barley (hence the name) is the other type you’ll see at stores. This type of barley, thanks to being in its true whole grain form has more fiber. For more about barley, check out these helpful cooking tips and recipes by The Kitchn!
- 2 Fennel bulbs, largely chopped, stems removed
- 1 cup barley, uncooked (makes 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked barley)
- 3 cups water or low sodium vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup goat cheese or feta, crumbled
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- Juice of one medium orange, zest of the orange is optional
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Prepare the barley by combining the barley and liquid (water or stock) in a 3-qt saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for 50-60 minutes or until tender. If you prefer, cook the barley ahead of time to reduce total cooking time for the recipe. Store chilled in a covered container if preparing more than two hours before.
- Once the barley has been cooking for at least 20 minutes, spread the fennel on a baking sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30 minutes or until desired browning occurs.
- While the fennel is roasting, prepare the dressing by whisking together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Once the barley and fennel are both done, transfer both items to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until the barley and fennel are thoroughly coated with the dressing.
- Optional: Top with more chives and walnuts.