Barley and leeks are an integral part of traditional Irish cuisine. I love sweet and savoury leeks and I've rediscovered barley as a staple pantry pal. I've given them the wow factor with a really tasty dressing, toasty hazelnuts and roasted butternut squash.
This is a very robust salad or side dish that will travel well as a packed lunch for work and will keep fresh in the fridge for three days. Barley is an excellent source of slow release energy and colon cleansing fibre. Pot barley is the unrefined, healthier option whereas pearl barley has been polished, but is still highly nutritious.
* 250g pot or pearl barley
* 750ml water or stock
* 1/2 butternut squash or piece of pumpkin, peeled and diced
* 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
* 3 large leeks, trimmed, sliced and washed
* 2tbls chopped parsley
* Olive oil
* 1 thumb of ginger, grated
* 3 garlic cloves, crushed
* 100ml olive oil
* 2tbls apple cider vinegar
* 2tbls soy sauce
* 1tsp wholegrain mustard
* 1tsp honey
* Salt and pepper
* Rinse the barley well and simmer in the water or stock for an hour and a half until just tender. Add more water if needed if the barley is still not cooked through. Be sure to cook out the water completely so that the wet barley doesn't make for a soggy salad.
* Lightly coat the butternut squash with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes at 200°C until just tender and starting to caramelise.
* Mix the dressing and pour over the warm cooked barley. Season to taste.
* Gently cook the leeks in a little olive oil and mix through the barley.
* Fold in the roasted butternut squash, be careful not to mush it.
* Garnish with chopped toasted hazelnuts and parsley.