Happy Friday everyone! The weekend is finally here! Since we started Monday off with a sweet treat, Cookies ‘n Cream Mini Cheesecakes, I thought we better go a little healthier today. Today I’m sharing this wonderful recipe for Barley Salad with Chickpeas and Cherries.
I decided to make this salad because I’ve been craving all the sweet cherries I’ve been seeing in the stores lately. I love cherries IF they are sweet. If they aren’t forget it, I’d rather eat a lemon. Typically I just eat cherries as a snack or in a delicious cherry pie, but now I’ve discovered how wonderful they are in a savory salad. This might sound strange, but one of my favorite 4th of July memories involves cherries. When I was a kid our family would get together with some of our neighbors and their kids every 4th of July for a barbecue and swimming. After we had stuffed ourselves with hamburgers, lemonade, and dirt (the dessert not the stuff in the ground) we would go watch fireworks. We would bring blankets and lawn chairs and go sit out on a golf course to watch the show. As if we hadn’t eaten enough I remember someone would bring a big bowl of cherries to snack on. I can remember eating the cherries by the handful until I thought I would pop! How I didn’t make myself sick eating that many cherries I’ll never know.
Back to this Barley Salad with Chickpeas and Cherries. If you’ve never eaten barley in a salad before it’s a must try! There are two kinds of barley, pearl and hulled. Pearl barley is more common and cooks faster than hulled. Hulled barley is the whole grain form of barley. It is chewy in texture and rich in fiber. Hulled barley is similar in texture to wheat berries. I actually used a combination of hulled and pearl barley in this recipe because I didn’t have enough hulled. You can do a combination of both if you would like, but next time I will just stick to the hulled version. So, we have our fiber loaded whole grain in the salad now we need some protein. I chose to use chickpeas in this salad because they are hearty and hold up well. For more crunch and texture celery, green onion, and toasted slivered almonds did the trick. Then I added in those sweet cherries. I don’t know about you, but I love adding fruit to my savory salads. I guess it comes from my love of salty sweet combinations.
The final two components of the salad are a delicious lemon dijon vinaigrette and creamy goat cheese. The goat cheese really takes this salad to a whole new level. I love the way the goat cheese almost melts into the salad when you toss it, giving it a creamy and slightly tangy coating all over the barley. The combination of flavors and textures in this salad is out of this world and they all work together so well! This salad is hearty enough to serve as a main dish or would make a wonderful side dish. If you love sweet cherries, nutty tasting chickpeas, creamy goat cheese, and salads full of texture then you must make this Barley Salad with Chickpeas and Cherries. Make it this weekend or bring it to your 4th of July barbecue, your friends and family will love it!