"Basta" Salad

Ever since my sister introduced me to "Basta" Salad, it's been one of my favorite dishes. The barley, a whole grain, replaces the refined pasta you would normally see in a pasta salad, thus coining the term "basta" salad. Loaded with vegetables & beans, it's a perfect complete meal in and of itself, but it also makes an excellent side dish.

Basta Salad

4 cups pearled barley, cooked according to package instructions
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a red onion, diced 
1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped
1 English cucumber, quartered & chopped
1 can small black olives, drained
1 jar green olives, drained
2 cans beans, rinsed & drained
A few handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
Mild banana peppers to taste 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. I like to mix and match the beans. I've used kidney & great northern beans as well as black & garbanzo beans, & it always tastes great! Chef's secret: pour a little juice from the jar of banana peppers into the salad for extra flavor.

For the dressing:

1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil

Mix and pour on the salad, stirring to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate. This is very much a {Whatever} recipe and is completely adaptable to whatever you happen to have in your pantry or fridge. This recipe yeilds a lot, as my recipes normally do, which makes it a great dish to bring to a potluck or to keep in the fridge for easy lunches during the week.