Warm chicken and barley salad is perfect to make with roast chicken leftovers – filling, healthy and tasty.
Pearl barley fell out of favour in British cooking for many years but it’s experiencing a bit of a revival at the moment. Rightly so because it’s highly nutritious and has a lovely mild, nutty flavour and chewy texture. It’s most commonly used in soups and stews, where it thickens the liquid as it cooks. But if you cook it separately, as in this recipe, it expands into fluffy grains, a bit like brown rice. This warm chicken and barley salad is filling but healthy – under 350 calories per portion. Plus it’s really affordable at 72p a head to make – less if you’re using up leftover roast chicken. A great start-of-the-year dish.
- 150g (5oz) pearl barley, rinsed well
- 1 tsp salt
- 125g (4oz) frozen peas
- 2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
- About 60g (2oz) fresh spinach leaves
- About 25 fresh mint leaves
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 250g (8oz) cooked chicken, roughly shredded
- Salt and ground black pepper
- About 15g (½oz) flaked almonds, toasted
Put the barley in a pan with 1.5 litres (2½ pints) boiling water and the salt, bring back to the boil and simmer for 35-40 mins until the barley is tender.
Drain the barley, tip it into a large bowl, add the cooked peas, spring onions and spinach and stir to let the spinach wilt and the vegetables warm through.
Put the mint leaves in a tall jug, or bowl, with the oil and whizz with a stick blender to make a dressing.
Add the shredded chicken, seasoning and mint oil to the warm barley mixture and stir well. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve warm.
Top tips for making warm chicken and barley salad
Make a vegetarian and vegan friendly version of this dish by swapping the chicken for either fried tofu or thick slices of big portobello mushrooms, fried in oil with a clove of garlic.