Barley Salad with Greens, Chicken, & Jalapeño
- 1 cup pearled or hulled barley (I used pearled)
- 3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth (3 cups and ½ cup divided—I used chicken)
- 1 10-ounce container raw baby spinach
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
- 5 scallions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and chopped
- 2 limes
- 1 medium sweet potato
- about 1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breast filets
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 large or 2 medium chipotle peppers plus 1 tablespoon
- adobo sauce
- ½ tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- full-fat Greek yogurt for garnish
- 3-4 avocadoes for garnish
- red pepper flakes
- cayenne pepper
- You can do this the night before if you want to let the chicken marinate for longer: In a shallow glass dish, mince the garlic and juice one lime. Add maple syrup, chopped chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, olive oil, and a dash or two of salt; whisk together with a fork. Remove chicken breast fillets from packaging, pierce with the fork, and coat in sauce before covering dish in plastic wrap and moving to refrigerator to marinate. (Don’t forget to wash all surfaces well that come into contact with the raw chicken, including your sponge.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and chop sweet potato, leaving the skin on. Move to a lined baking sheet and drizzle with peanut oil and a dash of salt. Toss together with your fingers to coat potato pieces. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Chop de-seeded jalapeños, cilantro, and scallions. Cut one lime into eight wedges. In a small bowl, mix together half of the chopped cilantro and all of the chopped scallions. Move lime wedges and cilantro-scallion mixture to the fridge. In a separate bowl, put chopped jalapeños and the other half of the chopped cilantro. This will be added to the barley once it has cooked.
- When sweet potato has finished roasting, remove from the oven to cool and turn oven heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake chicken at this heat for 40 minutes. Once it has finished cooking, let cool before shredding and allowing to soak up the juices it baked in.
- Cook the barley. As the barley cooks, and being sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overflow, heat ½ cup chicken broth in a skillet over medium heat. Handful by handful, add spinach to the skillet; midway through, add ½ tablespoon butter and continue adding handfuls of spinach until it is all wilted. (There may be a little liquid still in the skillet; just pour it into the barley along with the cooked spinach.)
- In a large bowl, stir together cooked barley, cooked spinach, roasted sweet potato, ½ bunch chopped cilantro, 2 chopped and de-seeded jalapeños, and shredded chicken along with the juices it cooked in. Season with ground red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, lime wedge, diced avocado half, and a sprinkling of the chopped cilantro-scallion mixture.
Amigas, this is another one to add to the recipe books. If you’re looking for a dish to make on the regular that is flavorful, healthy, and relatively low-calorie: try this.
I love making big batches of food at the beginning of the week and then knowing that I’ll have readily available meals for the rest of the week. I just got home from lifting weights an hour ago, and having to wait a mere five minutes to satisfy my hunger was very pleasing.
This recipe makes eight cups of the salad, at about 230 calories and 25 grams of protein per cup; add on a ¼ cup of full-fat Greek yogurt and some chopped cilantro, scallions, and lime juice, and you’re looking at around 285 calories and 30 grams of protein. Personally, I plan on adding on half of a diced avocado when one of mine ripens up—and that’s still a sweet 400-calorie meal.