March 12, 2006

I officially enjoy barley

In a fit of health-consciousness, I decided to spend half of my day on Monday browsing through Epicurious looking for exciting salad recipes, and this ended up the winner:

Barley, Feta, & Pear Salad

3 cups pearl barley
6 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Approx. 2 cups baby spinach (basically as much as you’re feeling)
1/2 cup white grapes
1 firm-ripe pear
1/2 cup crumbled feta
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 2-quart saucepan three fourths full with boiling water boil barley, partially covered, until tender, about 30 minutes.

While barley is cooking, in a baking pan toast walnuts in middle of oven until golden, about 7 minutes. Chop spinach; quarter the grapes. Peel and core pear and cut into 1/4-inch dice.
Drain barley in a sieve and transfer to a bowl. Add feta to barley and add remaining ingredients, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss salad until combined.

Makes 4 side servings.

Considering I usually like my food sweet rather than savory, the honey & cinnamon are my own additions, as are the grapes. The original, more savory recipe is here. I just couldn't justify buying a whole head of celery for one rib, since I'm not a huge celery fan.

Anyway, it turned out quite amazing. I had never cooked with barley before, so I was worried that there was some secret to it that I didn’t know. Luckily, if you know how to boil water, you can cook barley – do just as the recipe says and it will turn out perfectly. It was very quick as well – toast the nuts and chop everything else, and by the time you’re done, the barley is cooked and ready to eat. It was very filling and I felt extremely healthy.

And since I felt so healthy, I then stuffed my face with girl scout cookies. Because hey, if you’re going to be healthy for dinner, you’re TOTALLY entitled to dessert.

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