Pearl Barley and Beetroot Salad
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    Serves 6 -8
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Serve warm or cold, as a starter or accompaniment to a dish, this recipe ticks all these boxes. It’s one of my favourite salads, it’s healthy and absolutely delicious. I make this dish in the summer to serve with a family BBQ or during the winter, serve slightly warm, with slow roasted shoulder of lamb.

The toasted sunflower seeds adds a gentle crunch to the salad. I like the different textures it offers.

The beetroot is not cooked, in fact it’s raw and placed in a solution of vinegar, sugar, salt and oil to macerate the raw beetroot. This solution softens the hard fibrous beetroot. Macerating the beetroot means that no cooking is required, this keeps the fresh of pearl barley and beetroot salad

Ingredients & Method

For the macerated beetroot

  • 2 whole raw beetroot, peeled
  • 25ml sherry vinegar
  • 1tsp unrefined caster sugar
  • 1tsp honey
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pearl barley salad

  • 300g pearl barley
  • 50g toasted sunflower seeds
  • 40g sugar snap peas
  • 10g flat leaf parsley
  • 40g spring onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 1tsp ground sumac
  • 25ml olive oil
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon

First prepare the macerated beetroots. The beetroot needs to macerated in the liquid for a minimum of 2 hours before using.

The vinegar and salt help soften and brake down the beetroot,  a form of quick pickling.

Peel the beetroot, use a mandolin to finely slice the raw beetroot 1mm thick, and do not slice the beetroot too thick.

Mix the rest of the ingredients for the pickle in a mixing bowl and add the raw sliced beetroot, be generous with the seasoning. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours before using.

In the meanwhile cook the pearl barley. Rinse the pearl barley under cold water, transfer the pearl barley to a large saucepan and cover the pearl barley with cold water, do not add any salt at this stage.

Bring to the boil over medium heat covering the pan with a lid and simmer the pearl barley for approximately 20 minutes until soft but still holds it’s shape. Add salt right at the end of the cooking time.

Drain the pearl barley in a colander and rinse with cold water, let the pearl barley drain in a colander.

Place the pearl barley in a large mixing bowl add the olive oil, seasoning, ground sumac, toasted sunflower seeds, lemon juice and zest.

Rough chop the parsley, slice the spring onions and sugar snap peas. Mix all the ingredients together, add the macerated beetroot and tasted sunflower seeds and serve.

Cooks Notes
There are many different mandolins on the market. My preference is known as a Japanese mandolin that is wider than standard as so you can do so much more with it. Take extra care when using the mandolin and watch you fingers.