Make This Tonight: Barley with Chicken and Veggie Slaw

May 15, 2012

Barley with Chicken and Veggie Slaw
Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest

Face it, Zooey Deschanel: when a casting call goes out for an adorable, kooky, fresh-faced, girl-next-door type your name tops the list. Wouldn’t it be great to be considered for other roles once in a while? After all, you can totally play conventional, world-weary or even detestable! Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Barley, too, would welcome the opportunity to break free from typecasting. This fiber-packed grain is an automatic choice for hearty, wintry soups costarring mushrooms, beans, or beef. Sometimes barley gets to mix it up a little in a risotto or pilaf, but rarely does it have the chance to explore its full potential.

In this main course salad, barley lands a part that allows it to stretch. It adds an unexpected hint of chewiness to a cool, crunchy vegetable slaw, playing against its popular perception as warm and comforting. A creamy cashew dressing joins this ensemble effort, along with a topping of lemony shredded chicken breast.

Be sure to set aside enough time to soak the cashews in water before making this recipe. Though it may be tempting to skip this step, it softens the nuts, making it easier to purée them for the dressing. As an added bonus, soaking the nuts beforehand enhances the body's ability to absorb their nutrients and increases their digestibility.

Barley with Chicken and Veggie Slaw

Serves 4

1/3 cup cashews 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce 
3/4 cup pearled barley 
1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth 
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
1 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast 
1 cup shredded red cabbage 
1/2 cup shredded carrots 
1/2 cup shredded radishes 
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion 
2 tablespoons snipped chives

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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Wine Pairings:

This dish has a lot going on. There are chives, radish, tamari, and cabbage -- all strong flavors. A good wine to go with here is Soave (made from Trebbiano and Garganega) from north-central Italy. It will offer some relief to all these bold flavors. Sometimes the best match is the one that takes a subservient approach. Soave has good balance, good acidity, and a broad and round texture. With the bitterness of the cabbage, the zip of the chives, and the saltiness of the tamari, there's no need for competition.

Top Picks

2010 Ca Rugate Soave, Italy
2010 Blason Pinot Grigio, Italy

Jake Rosenbarger

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What ingredients would you swap in to make this dish your own? What other dressings would you use? Share your cooking tips and serving suggestions in the comments section below.

Like this post? See the Make This Tonight topic from last week: Beef Skewers with Romesco Sauce.

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