Using a precooked batch of Purple Prairie Barley, you have a basic element for main dish salads, side dish for grilled vegetables or fish, or the basis of a good winter soup.

part 1: cook the barley
Purple Prairie Barley is naturally unhulled, retaining all the germ without pearling/polishing. Look for it in the grain and legume section of your favourite grocers. I expect to see it more places – it is getting good mention at this year’s Fancy Foods show (just wrapping up in San Francisco).

The ratio is 1 cup rinsed barley to 2½ cups water or broth. Bring to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 1½ hour.
2 cups barley + 5 cups water
¼ cups dehydrated red and green bell pepper
2-3 Tablespoons dehydrated onion
1 Bay leaf
simmer approximately 90 minutes. remove from heat and let cool to absorb remaining liquid.

part 2: vinaigrette
My simplest everyday dressing ever since I saw Alice Waters talk about this and I found my first suribachi!
1 clove garlic
¼-½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1-2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Grind the garlic and salt together in the suribachi until you have a paste, then add the dijon, and lemon juice, thoroughly blending with wooden pestle, then drizzle in just enough olive oil to make an emulsion.

part 3: salad basics
Wash and spin (or pat dry) 4 handfuls of spinach, then add thinly sliced red cabbage (about ½ cup). Peel and chop or slice 1 apple (I used Pink Lady – any crisp apple will work), tossed in a Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to keep from browning).
If you have some roasted or grilled vegetables such zucchini or eggplant, that works nicely – no more than ½ cup. Toss together with part of the dressing.

Final Assembly:
To 1 cup cooked barley, add 2 ounces cubed feta, gently tossing with remaining dressing
To serve, layer spinach salad first on plate, then mound the barley-feta mixture on top.

serves two