Monday, September 15, 2014

Salad Smackdown: Barley Is a Winner

I love a good grain salad, so when I heard Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm waxing poetic about the quality of their barley this year, I had to get some. Of course, I'd never cooked barley before, though I'd made a killer salad with his frikeh, but I decided what the heck, my family will pretty much eat anything with enough garlic and fresh vegetables in it. To up the ante a notch, we had old friends coming over for a grilled salmon dinner, and it seemed like a grain salad with some crunchy raw vegetables would be a good match.

I wasn't wrong.

Adding water to the soaked grains.

Between the terrific salmon, which Dave grilled to perfection, and the 2009 Seufert Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir my brother supplied to go with it, not to mention the near-perfect late Oregon summer evening and the table lit by candlelight, we all were swooning. The pop of the grain and its sweet, carrot-like flavor just made it all that much better. I don't think you could ask much more of a salad.

Barley salad

1 lb. hulless barley
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1 fennel bulb, chopped fine
1 c. corn kernels (or kernels sliced from 1 corn cob)
5 or 6 leaves kale, sliced into chiffonade
1/4 c. olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
2 tsp. salt, then more to taste

Put barley in large pot. Cover with cold water by 2” and soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the barley in a fine mesh sieve. Put in pot and cover with cold water by 1”. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25-40 min. until done to your liking. (I like it a bit al dente, so only cooked mine 25 min.) Add more water if it gets dry.

When done, drain barley and rinse in cold water. Put in large salad bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, fennel, corn and kale and mix to combine. Add olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Mix to combine. Cover and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 min. before serving. Prior to serving, taste for salt and adjust as needed.

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