- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Barley has a light, nutty flavor and toothsome quality that make it one of my favorite soup ingredients.

The grain’s starchiness gives soup a thick, robust consistency, but barley’s distinctive attributes have more than culinary appeal.

The grain is rich in soluble, or viscous, fiber, according to Julie Miller Jones, a nutrition professor at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn.

Viscous fiber slows digestion time for the grain, so it keeps you satisfied longer. Although it’s true that barley soup can make you feel full, any barley-based dish will have the same effect.

Try a side dish of cooked barley in place of a slice of refined white bread with dinner. See how delicious and filling a barley risotto can be. If you’re usually starving a couple of hours after a lettuce-based salad, substitute barley for the greens.

In the following recipe, barley is combined with onions, capers and salmon for a delicious entree. Unlike a salad of delicate greens, this recipe can be made in advance and refrigerated for several hours. It’s so sturdy that you can pack it for a workplace lunch.

Barley does have the unfortunate tendency to boil up.

Use a large pot when cooking it, and prepare more than you’ll need for one recipe.

Once you get into the barley habit, you’ll find dozens of ways to feature it in your cooking.

Barley and salmon salad

cup pearl barley

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed if salty

1/4 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives, optional

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 6-ounce can salmon, drained and flaked

1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Place barley in large heavy-bottom saucepan. Add 13/4 cups water and salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer for 25 minutes, or until barley is tender and water is absorbed. Remove lid; stir barley with a fork to break up chunks. Cool.

Combine red onion, capers, olives (if desired) and celery in a salad bowl. Stir in barley, salmon and parsley. Pour in olive oil and vinegar to taste. Toss gently but well. Season to taste with pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

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