Light and easy to digest, this wonderfully colourful and flavoursome salad will set you up nicely for a spring afternoon workout. An excellent slow-release carbohydrate, pearl barley makes a tasty and filling alternative to rice, couscous or quinoa.
It contains protein, is low in fat and cholesterol and is a great source of fibre, B-vitamins, iron, calcium, selenium and potassium. Combined with the crispy chicken, juicy pear, peppery rocket, crunchy hazelnuts and just a hint of chilli, it packs a massively tasty nutritional punch to support sustained energy levels, muscle health and the immune system.
Equipment needed: a sharp knife, saucepan with lid, baking tray, non-stick frying pan, and a chopping board.
Ingredients (to serve four)
For the salad:
■ 250g pearl barley
■ 1tbsp olive oil
■ 2–3 free range boneless chicken breasts (skin on)
■ Pinch of salt
■ 3 ripe pears, quartered and cored
■ 50g whole hazelnuts, shelled but with skin on
■ 1 fresh red chilli, seeds removed and sliced finely
■ ½ cucumber, chopped into small chunks
■ Bag of wild rocket leaves (70–100g)
■ Plenty of freshly-ground black pepper
For the dressing:
■ 1tbsp white balsamic vinegar
■ 2tbsps extra virgin olive oil
■ 1tsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar (optional)
■ Pinch of salt
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Cook the pearl barley in salted boiling water according to pack instructions.
While the pearl barley is cooking, sprinkle the chicken skins with a pinch of salt, then add a tablespoon of oil to a non-stick frying pan and sauté the chicken over a medium heat, skin side down, for about 8mins, until the skin is nice and crispy.
Turn the chicken over and cook on the other side for another 5mins or until it’s just cooked through. Transfer to a warmed plate and leave to rest until needed.
Chop the hazelnuts into halves or quarters, lay out on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5mins until just browned. Set aside to cool. Chop half the pears into cubes. Slice the remaining half. Whisk the dressing ingredients together.
When the pearl barley is cooked, drain and transfer to a small bowl. Stir in half the dressing, the red chilli, the chopped pear, the cucumber and the hazelnuts, saving a few to scatter over the top for decoration.
On a chopping board, slice the chicken thinly. Arrange the rocket leaves on one large plate or four individual plates, spoon over the pearl barley mixture and arrange the chicken and remaining pear slices on top.
Spoon over the rest of the dressing, scatter with the reserved hazelnuts and finish off with a few grinds of black pepper.
Nutrition per serving
›› Energy 541kcal
›› Protein 20g
›› Carbohydrate 77g
›› Fat 19g
›› Sugars 17g
›› Saturates 1.8G
›› Salt 0.5g
›› Fibre 17g
(Image: Ewelina Karbowiak)
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