Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Grain Salad with Barley using Ferments

Last week I used up some leftover wild rice to make a side "salad" dish for a really wonderful Kalbi Flank Steak; both recipes were posted 3 days ago. I love grain "salads" though I don't make them terribly often. I had gone for labs last week also, and found my cholesterol is a bit high. In researching foods that help with the LDL side of things, barley was mentioned in many different sites, because of its soluble fiber. While my husband will not go straight for a grain salad, he will eat them. Yesterday when I made this salad he ate other things he preferred, so it was my side dish. Tonight it will be my main dish as he will not be home for dinner and I often go meatless.

Barley Salad with Fermented Red Onion

I initially set some barley to cook without any true idea of what I was going to do with it. As it cooked, I started thinking of how good the Wild Rice and Corn Salad turned out and realized I still had the other half of the red and green bell peppers I had used in the Wild Rice and Corn Salad, so obviously I would use those in this Barley Salad. The other thing I thought of, after the fact, was that I had a jar of fermented Red Onion Relish in the fridge and had yet to use it. I am sure it would have made an excellent addition to the Wild Rice and Corn Salad, had I remembered it. I also have a jar of Fermented Jalapeno Slices in the fridge and I love a little bit of piquant heat in my foods. 

With these two fermented foods in mind, I decided that this time I was going to use them in this new salad, so these items went into my list. Since I am making fermented foods all the time, I have a lot of them to eat so I may as well use them in recipes. Please understand, if you have not
Pickled Red Onions
jumped onto the fermented Foods Bandwagon, it is no big deal. Another relish of choice would also work, as well as chopped up Pickled Red Onions, which are much quicker to make. If neither of these is available, they can be left out completely. 

A few of the ingredients in the Wild Rice and Corn Salad went into this new Barley Salad, though with small variations the flavors went in a completely different direction. I eliminated the corn completely, kept the Feta cheese, scallions and cilantro. I substituted the pine nuts with pumpkin seeds and added in some dried cranberries (craisins). The dressing started out basically the same, using olive oil and lime or lemon juice. I also used the Sichuan peppercorns, just because I have them. These can easily be left out. 

One other ingredient that occurred to me at the last moment was probably one that just absolutely "made" this dish: Kalamata Olive Tapenade. I posted this recipe in April of this year, but will post it here again, because if you like olives, you really must try this out. It is so good, and so very easy to make. And, what an amazing thing to add to this vinaigrette-type dressing!

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

7 - 8 ounces pitted Calamata/Kalamata olives, drained
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (more, or less, as desired)

Place the olives, parsley and garlic in a food processor to finely chop. With processor running, add in olive oil until the mixture is at the consistency you prefer. 

Here is the recipe I made last evening for Barley Salad with Fermented Red Onion:

Barley Salad with Fermented Red Onion

serves 8 or more
Barley Salad with Fermented Red Onion

1 cup pearl barley (long-cooking kind)
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 green bell pepper (about 3/4 cup), chopped
1/2 red bell pepper (about 3/4 cup), chopped
1/2 cup Fermented Red Onion Relish
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (or as desired)
1/4 cup Fermented Jalapeno Peppers, minced
1/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger root
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon more salt, if needed

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon Sichuan Peppercorns, crushed, optional
1 tablespoon Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Set the barley to cook in a saucepan with the water and the teaspoon of salt. Lower heat and cover. Cook for about 50 to 55 minutes or until the barley is cooked to your taste.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the bell peppers, Red Onion Relish, Feta cheese, cilantro, Jalapeno peppers, craisins, pumpkin seeds, ginger and scallions. Once the barley is cooked through, drain any excess water and allow the barley to cool slightly. Once cooled, combine the barley with the ingredients in the bowl and toss. Pour in the Dressing and toss well to coat. Taste for salt, adding more only if needed. The salad is best served at room temperature.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.