Warm Winter Salad with Barley, Broccolini and Toasted Pecans

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I’ve noticed I haven’t posted a salad recipe in a long time, which is ironic as salad is one of my favorite things to eat!  As we move into winter, my body hasn’t craved my usual pear and avocado salads – instead I’m gravitating towards delicious and warming salads that keep me nourished and satisfied!  I’m absolutely loving this warm winter salad!  I’ve never experimented with warm salads before or barley but this really is so incredibly delicious!  It is filled with an array of roasted vegetables, from sweet broccolini to hearty mushrooms, which are crisped to perfection and then tossed in a lemon dressing with toasted pecans and warm nutty barley.  The warm barley makes this salad so comforting and soothing.  Just looking at this winter salad makes me excited for the chilly months ahead, knowing that I can keep enjoying warm salads, delicious porridges, hot teas, soups and all the other scrumptious winter comfort foods. 

If you are new to using barley you should know that it is incredibly delicious, adding a nutty flavor, and very nutritious!  It is a fantastic grain filled with fiber, protein, vitamin B, and iron.  The fiber in barley is essential for facilitating digestion and proper bowl movements (aka pooping).  It is also responsible for giving us the quick ‘full’ feeling, allowing us to stay fuller for longer, thus helping to prevent weight gain.  If you are a vegetarian protein is an often controvercial component to your diet and lucky barley, broccoli and broccolini are all packed with protein!  Nearly every function in the body needs protein, as it is a source of energy that rebuilds tissues and assists in new cell formation.  Broccolini is also a wonderful skin food! The glucoraphanin found in broccolini helps to repair skin damage by detoxifying the skin, which is our largest organ.  I hope you get to enjoy this warming salad, as it is so nourishing for your skin and body!

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Serves: 2-3

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients for the Barley, Broccolini and Toasted Pecans:

- 1 cup barley

- 2 ½ cups water

- 1 broccolini head or ½ head of broccoli

- 2 cups crimini mushrooms

- 1 small onion

- avocado slices (optional)

- juice of one lemon

- 2 zucchini

- ½ teaspoon paprika

- ½ teaspoon turmeric

- handful of pecans

- olive oil

- sea salt

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Start by preparing the barley by boiling 2 ½ cups of water with a teaspoon of salt.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the barley cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. 

Now preheat the oven to 420F.  Cut the mushrooms, onion, and zucchinis into large bite size pieces.  Then cut the broccolini into large and medium size pieces, keeping the stem – the stem is delicious and edible.  In a large mixing bowl, add the vegetables, spices, olive oil, and salt.  Mix well and then place on a prepared baking sheet to bake for 15 - 20 minutes.  Five minutes before the vegetables are crispy and done, add the chopped pecans to toast for the remaining time. 

Finally separate half the barley and add all the vegetables to one half of the barley.  Add more barley as you would like and the rest can be saved for a hearty addition to a salad.  Finally add the juice of one lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and enjoy!