Feta cheese – yum. It is just one of the many cheeses I always try and keep in the refrigerator. I love making Greek Salads – but truly, my favorite part is the feta. When I graduated from college, I went back to Europe to travel for a couple of weeks before I started my job – my time in France my junior year gave me such a bug, that I had to go back to visit a few places I had missed. One of those places was Amsterdam. I ended up meeting a friend of mine from High School there, and we went to this Mediterranean café for dinner – I normally try to stick to the specialties of the region, but this place was packed – and the food looked amazing. I had a greek salad that night that I will never forget. The feta was so fresh and delicious, I finished off the leftovers on my friend’s plate as well – he was laughing at my determination to not waste a single bite.
I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and it happened to win an award – how could I pass it up? The barley in the salad make it particularly intriguing to me – that is not a grain I have cooked before, although I do love it. I thought the nuttiness of the barley would go perfectly with the feta cheese – and I was right. The best part of all though was the lemon vinaigrette – use it sparingly, but boy what a burst of flavor it brought to the dish. We had some friends over for dinner that night, and it was a huge hit. I can see why it won an award.
- 2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
- 2 cups cubed seeded cucumber
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup cubed yellow bell pepper
- 1/3 cup reduced-fat feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
To prepare salad, sprinkle chicken with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Add 1 cup broth; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until done. Cool; shred chicken. Discard broth.
Bring 3 cups broth to a boil in a large saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Cool. Combine chicken, barley, cucumber, and next 4 ingredients (through olives) in a large bowl.
To prepare dressing, combine 3 tablespoons oil, rind, and remaining ingredients; stir well. Add to barley mixture; toss well. Cover and chill.
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