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Spring Eating: Toasted Barley Salad with Fava & Fennel

Article author photo. Rebecca Subbiah, RD This featured post is by Kara Lydon, RD, LDN. You can follow this blogger @karalydonRD.

With spring officially upon us, I think about dietitians asking their clients to spring clean their diets, purging their cabinets of processed foods and replacing them with nutrient-rich whole foods. This year, I’m focusing on spring eating — educating clients on the bountiful, colorful, delicious produce that is now in-season (see the recipe below for a great example).

Give your clients a few reasons to shop with the season:

Save Money. Produce that’s in-season tends to be more fairly priced.

Reap the nutrients. If picked and eaten at its peak, seasonal produce is packed with more vitamins and minerals than produce harvested before ripening.

Feel good. Eating seasonally often equates to eating locally grown foods. Eating locally helps support local farmers and reduces the miles your food traveled to reach your plate, minimizing your carbon footprint.

Add these nutrient-packed, spring seasonal produce to your clients’ shopping lists:

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Chives
  • Fava beans
  • Fennel
  • Fiddleheads
  • Garlic scapes
  • Leeks
  • Mangos
  • Melon
  • Peas
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss chard
  • Watercress

Toasted Barley Salad with Fava & Fennel

Recipe developed by Kara Lydon, RD, LDN

Serves 6

1 cup pearl barley
3 cups water
½ tsp salt
3 cups shelled fava beans
1 fennel bulb, shaved
7 mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
⅛ tsp sea salt
⅛ tsp freshly cracked ground pepper
¼ cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, place barley in preheated oven until lightly toasted, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water and ½ tsp salt. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes, or until tender and the water is absorbed.
  3. While the barley is cooking, prepare the dressing by adding olive oil, lemon juice and zest, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk until combined.
  4. In a large bowl, combine cooked barley, fava beans, fennel and mint. Add dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. 

Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, is a Boston-based nutrition & culinary coach and consultant, helping clients make the connection between healthy and delicious. Read her blog, Peace, Love, and Food, and connect with her on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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