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.


Salads and Beans

My Lunch Salad

The lettuces and other greens that overwintered in my garden don’t seem to mind the cold wet spring. The longer days and occasional rays of sun are enough for them to grow a few inches a day it seems. And as noted in last week’s post, my neighbor’s greens are even more prolific.

Not only are the cultivated greens thriving these days but so are the wild ones. I have never known much about what edibles one can forage but last week I had the pleasure of hosting a local TV news station and Edible Portland in my kitchen. They filmed a segment on wild edibles that had been picked earlier that morning in an urban neighborhood here in Portland by John Kallas, one of the authorities on wild foods. John wrote a comprehensive book on wild edibles including lots of recipes and photos to identify these delicious and nutritious foods. So if you don’t have any lettuces in your garden you  might want to check out the book and then take a walk in your neighborhood and see what you find. The salads and frittatas we sampled during the filming were delicious.

Cooked Pinto Beans, previously frozen

And beans! I love beans and to my great delight I caught a bit of Splendid Table (the NPR weekly food show) on Sunday about some of the healthiest people on earth who live in Turkey and eat lots of beans, olive oil and red wine.

But back to yesterday’s lunch salad–the salad I make in some fashion several times a week for lunch and for dinner has two main components: greens and beans. I always have home-cooked beans in the freezer and usually a quart in the fridge (canned beans work fine for this kind of thing too). And in the winter I almost always have kale around (which works beautifully in this hearty salad in its raw state) and the above mentioned greens. You really can use most any kind of green leafy item from spinach to kale to watercress and arugula to endive to romaine. Same with the beans. . .. red, black, pinto, white, garbanzo are all delicious.

Nice additions to this salad foundation are some of kind of cheese, hard-boiled egg,  some herbs or nuts, thinly sliced onion or minced garlic. . .. You can also play with the ratio of beans to greens. If you want a bean-heavy salad, just chop the greens and herbs a little finer and have the focal point be the beans, eggs, nuts, etc. And finally you need a zippy dressing. My standard is good olive oil (I like Unio by Siurana available locally at Pastaworks), lemon juice or red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and my secret ingredient: reduced apple cider. I take a half-gallon of organic apple cider and bring it to a boil in a big pot and reduce it at a rolling boil until it gets a little syrupy and viscous. I usually get about 1 1/2 cups from half a gallon. I store the syrup in a jar in the fridge and add a couple of teaspoons to my salad dressing.

Lunch Salad with Pinto beans, lettuces, hard-boiled egg, sharp cheddar and onion

With or without a slice of good bread (or maybe a batch of cornbread at dinner time) this is a light but satisfying meal.

And finally, since I promised you two recipes this week, here is a link to a recipe from my current favorite cookbook: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi from the eponymous restaurant in London. I  made these leek fritters last night and reluctantly sent my husband off to work with the leftovers.

P.S. There are a few spots left in my May classes, including next week’s Spring Market Class.

Greens & Bean Salad

See notes above about how to adapt this kind of salad to your liking and to what you have on hand, and hence the vague quantities below. This is really more of an idea than a formal recipe.

2-4 cups of packed greens of your choice

1-3 cups cooked (or canned) beans of your choice (pinto, black, white, garbanzo. . .)

2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

1/2 shallot or small chunk of red or yellow onion, slivered or diced

1-2 ounces of cheese of your choice (feta, sharp cheddar, fresh goat’s cheese. . . )

handful or two of raw or toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts. . .)

1/4 cup roughly chopped herbs (parsley, basil, chervil, tarragon, cilantro. . .)

Dressing

1/4 cup of good olive oil

2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons reduced apple cider (see note above) (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 clove of garlic, minced

Place all salad ingredients in a large boil. Mix dressing and drizzle over salad and toss well.