Barley and Pomegranate Salad

I did not plan to post about grain salads two weeks in a row, or about grain salads that involve a lot of messy, red splatters in the process. Today it’s pomegranates not beets but I dare say they are messier than the beets. But worth it! I rarely use pomegranates but Yotam Ottolenghi can convince me to use most anything. And I have struggled with barley salads in the past, as you might recall, but no more.

I ate pomegranates when I lived in southern Italy and remember being enchanted seeing them growing for the first time. They are beautiful and they are a bit of pain. I found splatters about seven feet up on a kitchen wall about six feet from where I had been working. Wear an apron when you’re picking out the seeds and wipe down your walls afterwards. And if you have tricks to extract the seeds with less mess, please share!

Other than that, this salad is a cinch. It’s subtly seasoned with ground allspice and minced garlic and more forcefully so with sherry vinegar. The result is a crunchy, juicy, fresh yet hearty salad that is nothing short of gorgeous. Enjoy!

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. One spot left in this Saturday’s class, that I’m now calling Party with Class (instead of Eat, Drink & Be Merry). The menu of both cocktails and treats is, well, a bit ridiculous. . . I’m going to be prepping and cooking for the next few days straight.

Barley and Pomegranate Salad
–adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

This is a gorgeous, fresh and unexpected combination. It’s lovely this time of year when pomegranates show up in the markets. I did not have dill on hand either of the times I’ve made this and it was wonderful. I’m sure it would be even better with dill, as written below.

Serves 4-6 as side

1 cup pearl or hulled barley (hulled is the whole grain version and takes a bit longer to cook and is what I used here)
6 celery stalks (leaves picked and reserved, stalks cut into small dice)
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped dill
seeds of one large pomegranate

Cook barley in salted water until tender, 30 – 40 minutes. Drain barley and transfer to a bowl. Add oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper and celery and mix well. Let cool, then add herbs and pomegranate seeds. Taste and adjust seasoning.


The Last of the Corn, Peppers. . .

We are having a beautiful fall here in Oregon. Days are sunny and warm, evenings and mornings cool and sometimes foggy and all those dreaded green tomatoes have (or will!) turn red. The peppers are glorious and abundant in every color, size and shape. And while I’ve mostly shifted to late fall/winter vegetables for my classes (still spots left in Soup Class on 10/24!) I am still clinging to the summer ones for the duration of their existence this year for my home cooking

I first made this salad almost a month ago as part of the dinner I catered for a forestry conference my mother hosted. It was well received and prompted my brother (the one who recently got married) to tell me that he wished I would have catered his whole wedding. I say this in part because I was thrilled to finally have created a barley salad worth writing about unlike this attempt you might remember.

So if like me, you’re trying to get the most of late summer treats like corn and peppers give this a try and let me know what you think. And I just might try a winter version of this hearty dish when I fully embrace the colder seasons.

Corn, Barley, and Roasted Pepper Salad

1  cup pearled or *hulled barley or about 3-4 cups cooked

3-4 ears of corn, kernels cut off cob

2-3 **poblano peppers or sweet Italian red peppers or really any kind or combination of sweet or mildly spicy peppers

3 oz of feta, crumbled

Dressing:

3 tablespoons lime or  lemon juice

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 cloves of garlic minced

salt, pepper

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 bunch parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

*Note: I used hulled barley which, unlike pearled barley, has only had the outer layer removed and the bran layer is still intact. It’s delicious and full of good fiber but does take a little longer to cook so depending on what kind you’re using adjust your cooking time. ** Poblano peppers vary widely in their level of heat/spiciness. Taste them as you go and you may not want to use as many as I suggest if they’re really spicy. Final note, if you’re using sweet peppers and are in a hurry you can skip the roasting step and just dice them. The roasting adds a wonderful smoky richness but the salad is still good with fresh peppers.

If you’re using hulled barley add it and 4 cups of water  to a pan with 1 tsp kosher salt. If you’re using pearled barley, add only 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for about one hour for hulled and 45 minutes for pearled. Test to check for doneness. You want it to be soft but with a bit of a bite still, not mushy. It’s pretty forgiving though and firms up a bit as it cools so don’t worry too much. Remove from heat and put in a large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile roast the peppers under the broiler or directly on your gas flame until blackened and blistered on all sides. Set in a bowl and cover for a a few minutes to cool and loosen the skin. When you’re able to handle them remove the skin, stem and seeds and roughly chop.

Cook the corn kernels with a splash of water and several pinches of salt until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix all the dressing ingredients. Add corn, peppers, cilantro or parsley (if using) and dressing to barley and mix well. Then add the feta.  Add salt, lemon juice or cumin to taste. The barley soaks up a lot of salt and acidity.

Note: It’s easy to cook barley in larger quantities ahead of time and freeze for  super quick meals like these.