Grilled asparagus with mint, pomegranate and barley is a side dish which can be served either warm or cold. It looks so pretty with the pomegranate arils, like crimson jewels, perched on top of the rich green mint and grilled asparagus. This is my interpretation of a delicious sauce I had several years ago at Gjelina, one of my favourite restaurants in Venice, California: https://gjelina.com/la/
All the components of this side dish can be prepared in advance. This makes it a great option for feeding a crowd, as I did for my annual ladies’ lunch. It also works well with grilled broccolini or blanched green beans. The barley is delicious if you cook it in vegetable or chicken stock, so why not use some of the poaching liquid from the poached chicken breasts? The mint and pomegranate sauce is also delicious served with barbecued lamb or flank steak. You can find pomegranate molasses in most large grocers. If not, just use a little maple syrup or honey to give the sauce its sweet flavour.
Here is the recipe for the poached chicken breasts: Poached chicken breasts with almond sauce
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Grilled Asparagus with Pomegranate, Mint and Barley
- 5 bunches asparagus allow 2-3 spears per serve
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
- 4 1/2 cups chicken/vegetable stock or water
- 1 tsp salt
Pomegranate and Mint Sauce
- 1 cup mint leaves, washed and chopped
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- 1 small eschallot, peeled and chopped substitute with 1/4 red onion
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses substitute with maple syrup or honey
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
- 1 - 1/2 limes, juice and zest
- flaked sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- For the asparagus, preheat a grill to 200°C and line a tray with foil. Arrange the spears flat alongside one another. Add a little salt and olive oil.
- Cook asparagus for about 5 minutes, turning halfway through. They may need a little longer if they're thick spears, but don't overcook them as they're best when they're a little crunchy.
- For the barley, rinse with water in a sieve, then add to the stock or water in a large saucepan. If you're using water, add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for approximately 25 minutes. By this time, it will have tripled in volume, and be soft, but a little chewy. Once cooked, drain any remaining liquid.
- To serve, spread the barley onto a large plate, put the asparagus spears on the top, then drizzle with the sauce.
Pomegranate and Mint Sauce
- Whisk all of the ingredients togther, except the lime juice. Add the juice of one lime just before serving. Taste the sauce, then add the extra lime juice if you think it needs more acidity.