This recipe caught my eye in the mainly vegetarian cookbook Plenty. I could not get my hands on sherry vinegar, so I improvised with pomegranate molasses or concentrated pomegranate juice (found in middle eastern food shops), which adds a slightly sweet, tart depth of flavour. The pomegranate seeds and celery bring a nice crunchy contrast to the chewy barley.
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 stalks celery, diced
1 pomegranate (gather the seeds by slicing horizontally and removing the skin)
2-3 tablespoons chopped dill
2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 cup currants (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Place barley into a small pot with 3 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes or until tender with a chewy bite. Drain if necessary.
While barley is still warm, stir in olive oil, vinegar, pomegranate molasses and shallot. Allow to cool and stir in celery, pomegranate seeds, dill, parsley and currants if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.