We grow a lot of barley in Oregon, but it’s mostly used to make beer or feed cattle. Most of what we actually eat is pearled, a process that grinds the tough hull off the barley berry. Unfortunately, it takes most of the nutrients and fiber, so pearled barley lands in the same category as white rice or industrial bread, an incomplete carbohydrate best eaten only occasionally.
Plant researchers at Oregon State University Barley World are working to reintroduce eaters to naked barley. Varieties that easily shed their tough outer hull, naked barleys have been around forever, but not widely cultivated as a food crop. It’s a shame, because naked barleys are delicious, and they provide regional farmers another crop for feeding us.
Purple Valley naked barley gets its name from the color of the uncooked grains. It fades with cooking, but the Haitian-style pickled cabbage provides plenty of color to this simple salad. It gets a flavor boost from some of our favorite Sicilian olives. Giarraffa olives are an ancient native variety, and cracking each olive allows the curing brine to penetrate and remove the bitter compounds more quickly. It also makes pitting easy.
For the shopping list
Purple Valley Naked Barley
From the kitchen
From our shop
$9 - Los Angeles - California
From the kitchen
Combine 1 cup of barley and 4 cups of water, add a teaspoon of sea salt, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool and drain.
Use the flat side of a knife to crush 1/2 cup of olives, then remove pits and chop coarsely.
Soak 2 tablespoons of capers in cold water for 15 minutes, then drain.
Combine the barley, 1/2 a jar of pickleez, olives, and capers. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and sardines, if using. Mix well and taste before salting, since the capers are salty.