Yesterday at the High Ground Organics open farm, we saw how they used barley as a cover crop, during the winter months, to prevent erosion. But they don't harvest it, they just cut it and disk it under. As dry, organic material mixed into the soil, it continues to help prevent erosion even during the months when it is no longer growing in situ.
Still it reminded me that I had a bag of organic pearlized barley in my cupboard. And it inspired me to make a barley-shitake salad for lunch today.
Barley's claim to nutritional fame: high in fiber, selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese. It's versatile as well. I usually use it as I would any grain - as a pilaf, in a salad, in a pudding.