I had this post scheduled for last Friday, but it suddenly sounded trivial in light of the recent tragic events in Paris, so I sat on it for a little while.
I was going to write about shopping, and the little Scandinavian café near Place de la République where I learned the French word for barley – orge, and thought of this salad.
The thing is, we live this world where deplorable incidents like these, sadly happens too often, except it usually happens to ‘other people‘ in ‘other places‘. The terror becomes more jarring and horrifying when it occurs in familiar places… in cities you love or in the same streets and cafés you were in just a month ago.
What I know is that Paris will recover from this, it always has; the past and the thousands of plaques, monuments and memorials marking the city‘s history tell us that it has survived worst, its motto after all is “Tossed But Not Sunk (Fluctuat nec mergitur)”.
I wish there was a way to figure out this madness, then I remembered a quote from a book I read a long time ago that said, “There’s no way for people to stop hurting each other except to stop”.
So, let’s get on with the salad then. We had an impromptu get-together this weekend where I got the chance to make this simple barley salad again. It truly is as simple as the name implies, and very loosely inspired by a side dish I saw at that café in Paris last year, hearty barley tossed with fruit and nuts and dressed in a yoghurt-ey vinaigrette.
Before then, I’d been holding on to a packet of quick-cooking barley from Trader Joe’s for several months determined to do more with it beyond soup and barley water.
Chewy with a rich nutty flavour, barley is a low-glycemic whole grain rich in dietary fibre and trace minerals. It’s cooked like pasta and can be substituted in recipes that call for rice and other grains.
This salad is a great way to try out barley if you’re new to this wonderful grain, it’s a highly versatile salad; add your favourites or whatever vegetables are in season where you are – I sometimes do carrots, red onions and roasted vegetables like fennel with a tangy harissa-spiced tahini dressing; apple, pomegranate seeds, toasted walnuts and kale is delicious with this dressing too.
As colder months draw in, I like to do warm filling salads that make a meal in themselves or good hearty side dishes. I love the chewy tenderness of this barley salad, here I pair it with simple medley of tomatoes, onions, sweetcorn and chili peppers. Use milder peppers if you prefer but I feel that the little heat adds a nice kick to the salad if you can handle it.
The dressing too is simple, a garlicky Dijon vinaigrette that is easy to throw together and easy to make your own.
- 1 cup pearl barley or hulled barley
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water (3 cups for hulled barley)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or a fruit- flavoured vinegar (I like pomegranate vinegar)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 - 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- Pinch of sea salt to taste
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 – 2 fresh chilli peppers or banana peppers or jalapeno, finely chopped
- 1 cup whole kernel sweet corn, cooked
- 2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Toasted pumpkin seeds and/or cashews for topping
- Freshly ground black pepper to serve
- In a medium saucepan bring broth or water to boil over medium-high heat
- Add barley, oil and salt and bring back to a boil
- Lower heat, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes (about 45 minutes for hulled barley) or until tender
- Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, drain liquid and let cool
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic and salt to make a smooth dressing
- Add barley, onion, tomatoes, pepper and sweet corn, toss to coat
- Stir in parsley and serve topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and/or cashews and some freshly ground black pepper to serve