I was flipping through Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special and came across this recipe for French barley salad. It had lemon and dill (I really should use dill more often) in the dressing so I thought alright that sounds like it could be good. And oh man was it good. This has fast become one of my favourite recipes that I've come across in any cookbook. Actually this cookbook could possibly be one of my new favourites, but I haven't made enough from it yet to be sure. The tofu and beet salad was a good start as my first recipe tried from Daily Special though so I think this cookbook has great potential!
I love this salad because it has so much good stuff in it and is so very tasty. The next time I make it, I'd like to try and cut back a bit on the oil though. I love that it uses barley, which I haven't had in so long but now that I'm reminded of its delicious existence, will be eating more often. There's a good vairety of veggies in here too with green beans, red peppers, carrots and mushrooms. The mushrooms are marinated in the dressing and turn out so yummy. And there are walnuts (rich in omega-3s! And they have other wonderful health benefits that I can't remember right now because I'm tired and would have to go find the magazine I read it in - alright fine I'm going to find the magazine now. Omega-3s help protect against depression, heart disease and Alzheimer's. They also have something in them that helps "inhibit the absorption of cholesterol".) The only downside to this salad is that it's best eaten the day it's made, unless you keep the green beans and walnuts separate. But then the marinated mushrooms start to become incredibly mushy as the days go on.
In conclusion, this is a wonderful salad that I highly suggest you all try. I know I'll be making it many times in the future. It's substantial enough to eat for a meal by itself, but it also makes a great side dish salad.
French Barley Salad
(Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special)
1/2 cup raw barley*
2 cups water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1.5 lemons)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard**
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (1 1/2 tsp dried or 2 tsp freeze dried)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup halved or quartered mushrooms***
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
1 cup cut green beans, trimmed and halved
1 cup thinly sliced red or yellow bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
Using a strainer, rinse the barley and drain. In a small heavy skillet on low heat, roast the barley until fragrant and beginning to brown. Place the barley and water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat until most of the water has been absorbed and the barley is soft, about 40 minutes.
While the barley cooks, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. In a separated bowl, pour half of the dressing over th emushrooms and set aside. Blanch the carrots in boiling water for baout 1 minute. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large serving bowl. Blanch the green beans for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Stir the bell peppers and parsley and marinated mushrooms into the bowl of carrots.
When the barley is tender, drain it in a colander. Add the drained barley and the remaining dressing to the serving bowl and mix well. Allow the sald to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, gently toss the green beans and walnuts into the salad.
*The recipe calls for pearl barley but I used pot and it was fine. I would also try using a different grain/seed, such as amaranth, quinoa, millet, etc.
**I plan to add more mustard next time since I love Dijon mustard, and the taste isn't even noticeable in the dressing in this amount.
***The mushrooms I used were big, about 1 oz each, so I cut them into 8.
Notes: To make the recipe healthier, try using less oil. Also, toast the walnuts in a dry skillet or oven instead of in a skillet with butter. This recipe doubles very well.