This impressive and unique salad, inspired by the flavours of Egypt, relies on a bed of tender, toothsome pearl barley as its base.
Pearl barley is a great candidate for the multicooker; by cooking the grains in plenty of water, similar to our method for brown rice, they cooked perfectly and evenly.
To further ensure separate, intact grains when pressure cooking, we found that a natural release was essential (quick-release caused some of the grains to blow out).
After either pressure or slow cooking and then draining the barley, we spread it on a baking sheet so that it would cool quickly. With our perfected barley finished, we incorporated toasty pistachios, tangy pomegranate molasses, and bright, vegetal cilantro, all balanced by warm, earthy spices and sweet golden raisins.
Salty feta cheese, pungent scallions, and sweet-tart pomegranate seeds adorned the top of the dish for a colorful and tasty finish. You can find pomegranate molasses in the international aisle of most well-stocked supermarkets.
Do not substitute hulled, hull-less, quick-cooking, or presteamed barley (read the ingredient list on the package to determine this).
EGYPTIAN BARLEY SALAD
Pressure cook total time: 1 hour
Slow cook total time: 2 hours
1 1/2 cups pearl barley
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped coarse
3 ounces feta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (3/4 cup)
6 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Combine 12 cups water, barley, and 1 tablespoon salt in multicooker.
‚Äî To pressure cook: Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 8 minutes. Turn off multicooker and let pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure, then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
‚Äî To slow cook: Bring mixture to simmer using highest saut√© or browning function. Lock lid in place and open pressure release valve. Select low slow cook function and cook until barley is tender, 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. (If using Instant Pot, select high slow cook function.) Turn off multicooker and carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
Drain barley, spread onto rimmed baking sheet, and let cool completely, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk oil, molasses, cinnamon, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Add cooled barley, raisins, cilantro, and pistachios and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread barley salad evenly into serving dish and arrange feta, scallions, and pomegranate seeds in separate diagonal rows on top. Drizzle with extra oil and serve.