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I love cooking with a variety of different grains, and it seems like there are an endless variety to choose from. I spend so much time standing in front of the bulk bins at the grocery store, it should be considered a hobby. While we’re on this topic, can we take a moment to acknowledge how awesome the bulk bin concept is? You get to sample a wide variety of dried goods, from grains to nuts, dried fruit, snacks and cereals, AND pay less than you would buying a prepackaged quantity. Win-win situation in my book. Thanks to my neighborhood bulk bins, I have tried everything from amaranth to forbidden rice. I may not like them all, but at least I don’t have massive quantities left over glaring at me each time I open a cabinet.

Barley is a perennial favorite in our household. It’s a grain for all seasons. It has the perfect chew, and is adaptable to so many different preparations. (Recipe for Indian barley khichdi coming soon!) In today’s iteration, it gets the green treatment. The original recipe I was inspired by had avocado as a topping, but I saw no reason to stop there. So I added a bunch of chopped broccoli, spinach, and doctored up the dressing with green chilies and chives. This dish packs a lively punch – the dressing is bright with lemon, and the chopped eggs, salty cotija cheese, almonds and avocado slices each add a unique texture dimension. Texture is so important to me in food. I don’t mind mushy foods, but they can’t JUST be mushy. There has to be another element that keeps things interesting. This barley bowl has that in spades. Throw it together for a quick meal. If you have the barley cooked ahead of time, it comes together super fast. And it makes for a great packed lunch the next day. Can you say win-win?

Green Barley Bowl with Lemony Yogurt Dressing

Recipe adapted from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon

1½ cup cooked pearled barley

1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets

½ cup baby spinach or arugula leaves

¼ cup crumbled cotija cheese (you could also use goat cheese)

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted

3 eggs, hard boiled and roughly chopped

Big pinch red pepper flakes

Salt to taste

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

Flaky sea salt (optional)

For the dressing:

½ cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 finely chopped green chili (optional)

Large handful chopped chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to boil in a medium saucepan. Blanch broccoli for 2 minutes and drain in a colander. Toss hot broccoli with spinach or arugula leaves just to wilt them a bit.

In a large bowl, toss together cooked barley, broccoli, spinach, cotija cheese, toasted almonds, and salt to taste. Divide mixture between two bowls and sprinkle each with red pepper flakes. Top with the chopped boiled eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest, juice, chili, chives, salt and black pepper. Top the barley bowls with a nice drizzle of the yogurt sauce. Finish each bowl with ½ sliced avocado, a sprinkling of flaky sea salt and serve.

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