Pesto Chicken Barley Salad
I love pesto. The main driver behind my ever expanding Basil plants is a constant supply of homemade pesto. It’s a great mix of flavours. The one downside is the fat and calorie count. Somehow I don’t like my sauces to be the majority of the calories in my meals – it just seems unbalanced. That’s the beauty of homemade pesto sauce – the freedom to modify. This salad has that great pesto taste without the extra calories. And it’s great for Summer because it’s best served cold (convenient for potlucks) and doesn’t require the oven. But it does involve these yummy things:
Here’s what you need:
- 1 1/2 cups barley (dry)
- 300g chicken breasts
- 1 stock cube
- 500g broccoli
- 3 plum tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tbs olive oil + 3 tbs water
- 3 tbs pine nuts (roasted – be careful they burn easily)
- A big handful of fresh basil leaves
Here’s what you do:
- Start by boiling the chicken breasts. Put them in a large pot and completely cover them with water. Add half stock cube and simmer for roughly 20 minutes (time will depend on the size of your chicken breasts – check after 15 minutes. You don’t want to overcook.)
- While the chicken is cooking start on the barley. The ratio of barley:water is 1:1.5. So add your barley to medium pot, along with 2 1/2 cups of water and the other half of the stock cube. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and cover for 10 minutes.
- Cut the broccoli and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Time for the healthier pesto sauce. Put 3/4 cup broccoli pieces into food processor, pulse until small. Add basil, pine nuts, parmesan and pulse again. Add olive oil and process. Finally add water until you get a consistency you like.
- By now chicken and barley should be done. Fluff barley with fork and add to large salad bowl, followed by remaining broccoli, tomatoes, and pesto. Mix well.
- Use two forks to shred chicken, add to bowl and toss till well distributed.
- (Optional) serve with shredded emmental cheese.