Pic of Barley, spring veg and sheep's cheese with avocado and kefir ranch dressing

Barley, spring veg and sheep's cheese with avocado and kefir ranch dressing

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Vegetarian mains

Barley, spring veg and sheep's cheese with avocado and kefir ranch dressing

Main Serves 2 40 min
Barley is a great base for a salad. It delivers a nutty taste with a good bite to it. We're pairing it with spring vegetables, topped with our take on a ranch dressing. We've ditched the fattier mayo and soured cream for healthier kefir, a cultured, thickened milk with lots of good bacteria and a great tangy flavour. We've blitzed it with avocado for a creamy texture and more nutrition. You'll have leftovers to keep in the fridge for another salad with this dish.

Cook's notes

If your avocado is a little hard, place it in a paper bag with a banana to ripen it up.


  • 150g pearl barley
  • 1 low-salt vegetable stock cube
  • 350g (unpodded weight) broad beans
  • 1 courgette
  • 250g asparagus
  • 2 spring onions
  • 30g chervil
  • 30g dill
  • 15g fresh mint
  • 50g salad leaves
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 pot kefir
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • olive oil
  • oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 1 pack Sussex Slipcote sheep's cheese
  • salt and pepper
Image of Barley, spring veg and sheep's cheese with avocado and kefir ranch dressing


Prep time: 5 min
Cooking time: 35 min
  • Step 1

    Rinse the barley in a sieve, then transfer to a saucepan. Add 750ml water and crumble in the stock cube. Bring the pan to the boil, then cook for 20-25 minutes, until the barley is just tender, with a nutty bite.
  • Step 2

    Keep an eye on the liquid, stir now and then to stop it catching and top up with a little extra water if the pan is boiling dry. Meanwhile, put another pan of water on to boil. Pod the broad beans. Dice the courgette into bite-sized pieces. Bend each asparagus spear, discarding the snapped off stalk bases.
  • Step 3

    Trim and finely slice 2 spring onions. Wash and shake dry the chervil, dill and mint. Pick the leaves off the mint. Chop half of all the herbs and keep to one side for later. Wash the salad leaves. Once the pan of water comes to the boil, add the podded broad beans.
  • Step 4

    Cook for 3-4 minutes, then drain, refresh under cold water to cool them, then peel off the outer skins (if you don't mind the outer bean skins, you can skip this part).
  • Step 5

    Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Use a sharp edged teaspoon to scrape out the flesh. If you have a blender, blitz the avocado with the kefir, the unchopped herbs, 1 peeled garlic clove, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, three quarters of the paprika and a pinch of salt. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if you like. If you don't have a blender, mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork, crush or finely chop the garlic and finely chop the herbs, then mix all the ingredients. It will be a little more chunky, but will still work.
  • Step 6

    After 20-25 minutes, the barley should have absorbed all the liquid. Quickly boil or drain off any excess. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Step 7

    Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Add the asparagus and courgette and stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the veg has just softened, and has just a little colour.
  • Step 8

    Mix the barley with most of the reserved chopped herbs and a glug of olive oil. Season to taste. Divide the salad leaves between 2 plates or wide salad bowls. Share out the barley and veg; use as much as you like and save any leftovers for a lunchbox salad.
  • Step 9

    Drizzle over some of the avocado ranch dressing and crumble over as much of the Sussex Slipcote cheese as you'd like. Sprinkle with a little leftover paprika and the remaining herbs to finish.

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