Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vegetable barley salad

Over my tenure as the chef at the recovery house, I've looked for ways to introduce new foods into the diet of the residents. This often means bringing ideas to the table from beyond standard institutional fare. I enjoy showing the residents that there is more to life than casseroles, processed foods and canned vegetables.

Since I first introduced brown rice unannounced two years ago, healthy whole grains have replaced about 60 to 75 percent the processed grains. Most of the sandwich bread is made from whole wheat. And I buy whole grain pastas when possible.

While I prepare a barley soup on occasion for the lunch meal, barley has never played a big part in the menu. I recently purchased several one-pound bags at the market (my supplier only offers large quantities). I plan to offer a number a barley salads and side dishes to the residents over the coming months.

The residents enjoyed a barley salad with julienne strips of carrot and zucchini at lunch today. Barley salad is a simple salad combination that can be used to create any number of flavor combinations. Use the recipe as a starting point, exchanging ingredients and adjusting flavors to suit.

You can go in any direction that you desire. Nuts add crunch and boost the salad's nutritional appeal. And who doesn't enjoy the rustic goodness of feta, Gorgonzola or bleu cheeses? You create a salad that brings the best garden produce to the table when one of these cheeses are pared with garden fresh grape tomato halves and fresh basil..

Any variety of vegetables can stand in for the carrots or zucchini. Try julienne strips of fennel or sweet peppers (multiple colors, of course). Other options abound, like radishes, spinach or corn. Even fresh peas would liven the salad. Just use your favorite produce in roughly equal amounts as listed in the recipe.

The residents enjoyed the salad. I plan to add it to the growing list of salads at the home. They should see it every week or two. It may never be the same, as I often use salads to showcase the fresh produce I buy at the local farmer's market. Once the market opens for the season next month, I'll prepare vegetable barley salad often.


I enjoy the barley salad on a bed of mixed salad greens with a extra drizzle of the vinaigrette. I prepared a vinaigrette with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar for the recipe today.

1 pound barley
4 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 pounds zucchini, julienne cut
1 pound 4 ounces carrots, julienne cut
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 (4-ounce) jar capers, drained and rinsed
2 cups vinaigrette (prepare your favorite)

1Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add salt and barley; stir and cover tightly. Cook on low heat until barley is tender and all water is absorbed, about 40-50 minutes. Rinse under cold to cool barley; place in large bowl; refrigerate until ready to mix salad.

Mix vegetables and barley. Mix vinaigrette into barley and vegetable mixture. Adjust seasoning; refrigerate for 2 or more hours to blend flavors. Makes about 4 quarts. Serves 25 (1/2-cup) portions.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh, thanks for reminding me of the grains I could be using! Quinoa was also a favorite of mine.