Today’s Recipe Mash-up: Barley South-West Salad

(a gluten free recipe) (very easily modified to vegan)

Rachel Ray has a great Barley Salad in her Big Orange Book. Nothing against Ms. Ray, I think she’s fun. But her recipes are…well, not for the lazy. Just reading the book and having to remember what EVOO means generally calls for a nap.

And Donna Klein offered a Quinoa Salad Recipe in some newspaper clipping that is so old it’s almost brittle.

I’ve got barley on hand, but no quinoa. Right now, it’s too warm and sticky for the Quinoa’s call for cumin. For me cumin is warm and heavy; comforting. Like a curried food or fall or winter food. And right now it’s so hot, it’s all I can do not to run around starkers (naked) in the yard. I don’t need warm, heavy or comforting.

One recipe serves 8, the other 4, so some lazy math will be involved to make a 4 person recipe.

So I’ll just pick the things I like, leave the things I don’t and use the things I’ve got.

We’ll see how the Mr. likes it and let you know.

So here’s a basic recipe for a gain and bean salad with some summer veg thrown in

2 cups of chicken stock (or the same amount of water with a little salt and/or wheat free tamari. Then add bacon fat or butter or olive oil …or all 3, but no more than a heaping tablespoon total)

½ tsp. fresh garlic (whatever you’ve got, crushed, chopped. Use less if it’s dried and powdered)

¾ cup of barley (Ms. Ray calls for pearled….I don’t know if mine is and I’m not going to look. It’ll be fine)

1 cup of cooked black beans (or if you are using canned, you can use the whole thing…it’s okay….really. And if you want, you can skip other beans….or not. I like beans, so the more the merrier.)

1 cup of bean X (black-eyed peas are best, but pintos or crowders or some combination thereof will work in a pinch)

1 cup +/- corn kernels

Some ripe tomatoes. Cherry, plum, whatever is on hand. But you’ll need chop enough to fill ¾ cup +/-   I personally wouldn’t like this without fresh, but would understand if you wanted to use canned tomatoes or even a bit of salsa.

Scallions (the last of my onion tops is what I’m using.  Red or white/Vidalia onions in a pinch) thinly sliced and chopped so you get about ¼ cup.

Black pepper to taste

That’s the basic recipe. The little black dress, as it were.  From here you can go a couple of ways; toward the SouthWest or more of a summer salad. Pick and choose to suit yourself. On past the cooking directions are a few things you might add to give it the flair you want.

Bring the stock (water) to boil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and barley. Return to boiling, and then turn to low, cooking until the liquid is gone. This should be about 45 minutes. (Honestly, I just use my rice cooker and dump it all in at once. Watching a sauce pan is too much work)

When it’s tender (not mushy, barley is great because it’s a tiny bit Al Dente) put it in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain. Put the barley in the bowl with your dressing of choice (tomato based, oil/vinegar, what have you…I’m easy)

Add other ingredients. Mix, toss or make your kids do it.

Things you might add if you’ve got them on hand:

Fresh or canned Jalepeno to taste: If fresh, get all the seeds out and chop it finely. (WASH YOUR HANDS! Avoid touching your face- or your guy parts, if you’re a guy- until your hands are clean). Fresh Jalpeno? I’m not going there. Too much work. Besides, if I want hot, that’s what burn sauce is for.

Cucumbers: (which I’ve got and will use) peeled, quartered and chopped. I use pickling cukes because I like the flavor. 1 cup +/-

Celery:  chopped chunky, for some texture. If you use the middle stalks, leave the leafy tops on. 3 – 5 stalks

A vinaigrette or Italian dressing: approximately ¼ cup.

Or alternately add salsa or picante sauce to taste: between ½ to 1 ½ cups

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