a fresh look at barley: a deliciously grainy salad with mint & feta cheese

cooking minette's barley salad with mint and feta cheese

i’ve always thought of barley in terms of a soup ingredient, as in the thick and creamy barley soups my grandma used to make on cold winter nights. she cooked the barley for so long it almost melted into the soup before folding in freshly chopped chives and a squeeze of lemon juice (or a small spoon of red wine vinegar). once in a while, just to make it extra delicious, she would also add a dollop of cream or a small chunk of sweet butter (come to think of it, i’ll have to make barley soup to share here soon). the other day i was exploring one of our local korean markets, walking down the aisles like a kid in the candy store when i came upon the huge selection of grains and beans: many varieties of rice (including a sweet brown rice i’ll be exploring soon), mung beans, red beans, and to my surprise,  a lot of barley in small & large packages, whole, rolled, organic, and not. the package i finally settled on has a lovely picture of fluffy barley in a bowl served like rice. last night I finally had the opportunity to make the salad i’ve been imagining since i brought home my bag of barley. i cooked it until it was just tender with a nice bite to it, and the rest of the salad came together easily based around ingredients i had on hand. it tasted just as I had imagined it would: chewy, grainy, fresh, and super satisfying-go ahead, try it-you won’t be disappointed!

ingredients for  4-6 servings of barley lentil salad:

cooking minette's barley rice salad

  • 1/2 cup small lentils
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 small shallot (or about 1 tbs finely minced)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (set aside a few smaller leaves)
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turkish red chili (pul biber) or red pepper flakes
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (or sherry vinegar)
  • 3-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup french feta cheese (crumbled)

rinse the barley in cold water, then cook (simmer) in a medium saucepan with plenty of water for about 30 minutes until tender (but still with a bite to it). cook lentils the same way, until tender and fully cooked. drain both grains and add to a bowl while still hot. add oil, shallots, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, and cumin. stir well, and allow it to cool off. when cool, add fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes, stir, then add feta cheese and stir again. taste and adjust seasoning to your taste, sprinkle with fresh mint leaves, then serve.

barley and lentil salad

(Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)

easing into spring: minty fresh taboule and a green bean salad with blood oranges

green bean salad with blood oranges and feta cheesei’ve been so obsessed with quinoa lately that i’ve neglected to make taboule the traditional way, with bulgur rather than substituting my favorite grain-seed (q-u-i-n-o-a}. at our house we really enjoy a good spicy quinoa-taboule (almost on a weekly basis), but there is something soothing and familiar and frankly more “substantial” about the original version-so, in planning the menu for a small gathering of friends last night i decided on a bowl of super fresh lemony taboule loaded with mint leaves (the way my lovely lebanese friend taught me way too many years ago in france) to go with my all time favorite chicken dish, adda’a morrocan chicken (which turned out better than ever i think- possibly because

minty fresh taboule

of the last minute addition of a cup of fresh orange juice). one of the best things about taboule is that the leftovers taste almost better the next day-which brings me to the most important factor in making a good one-the ingredients: they must be fresh and abundant (more fresh parsley, mint, and lemons than you think you need).

taboule ingredients

if you plan to make some, and you really should, because nothing makes you feel as spring(y) fresh as this dish-be ready to become pretty good friends with your favorite sharp knife….you’ll have to do some chopping, but it WILL be worth it. speaking of chopping, my green bean, feta, and walnut salad requires very little of it. it is so often my go to {delicious and easy} salad/side dish/almost-a-meal when i entertain-here i added the last blood oranges of the season for a citrusy punch and their beautiful color. it made the perfect side for the medium rare tri-tip roast i served with it. okay, now i’m hungry, and my mouth is literally watering. i’m hitting the fridge for a nice bowl of that leftover taboule~wish you could join me:-)

ingredients for 4-6 servings of bulgur (or substitute quinoa) taboule:

  • a bowl of mint fresh taboule2 large bunches of organic flat leaf parsley (about 1.5-2 cups) washed, allowed to dry, and finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch organic fresh mint leaves (1/2-1 cup), washed, allowed to dry and thinly sliced/chopped
  • 6-7 organic scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 ripe roma (or 3 medium ripe) tomatoes, finely cubed
  • 3/4 cup (i prefer less bulgur-adjust amount to your taste) cooked bulgur or quinoa (boil in lightly salted water for just a few minutes then drain excess water and allow it to cool)
  • 2 lemons, freshly juiced (adjust amount to taste-but keep in mind the bulgur soaks up the lemon juice and olive oil quite a bit)
  • 3-4 tbs good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste-red pepper flakes, optional for spicy

place all the ingredients other than olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl (leave ingredients in separate piles until ready to toss). if making ahead, cover and set aside until 30 minutes prior to serving, then dress (with lemon juice to taste, evoo, and salt & pepper) toss well. taste and adjust seasoning. enjoy every bite. {see below for green bean salad recipe}

for green bean salad with blood oranges:

blood oranges in salad

  • 2-3 cups organic green beans, cleaned and quickly boiled in lightly salted water until just tender-do not overcook them. drain in a collander and quickly place in an ice bath or rinse with cold water. drain well.
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled french feta cheese
  • 1-2 blood oranges (or you can use pomegranate seeds), peeled and sectioned into small pieces.
  • 1/4 cup of my shallot vinaigrette

combine ingredients in a bowl, drizzle with dressing, toss just before serving. simple as that.

the dinner table with the famous blood oranges front and center

the dinner table with the famous blood oranges front and center

 

my chicken dish with olives and lemons just getting started (adda's morrocan chicken)

my chicken dish with olives and lemons just getting started (adda’s morrocan chicken)

 

(Visited 46 times, 1 visits today)

a totally scrumptious salad: green beans with dukkah roasted chickpeas & pesto dressing

dukkah roasted chickpeas in salad

i was so lucky to find myself standing in Yotam Ottolenghi’s wonderful deli in Nottingham this past summer with my Sahar {cousin-love-sister} trying to narrow down (the hardest part) what to order for a quick lunch. we ended up with way more ahhhmazinngly fresh and tasty food than we could possibly consume (and we can certainly consume a good bit) wrapped in beautiful crisp white boxes to go (the only table of 10 in the back was full of people eating happily with no intentions to leave).Ottolenghi deli Notting Hill we sat on a little wall just outside devouring spiced roasted cauliflowers, grilled aubergine with cucumbers and red peppercorns, mixed beans with dill and coriander seeds, and crushed beetroots with labne and grains of paradise. does it sound as simply delicious, uncomplicated yet sophisticated as it was? i haven’t even started on the desserts yet. maybe it’s best i leave it to your imagination. let me just say i have never seen meringue as large, tasty and beautiful. when we were paying for the food my cousin picked up a jar labeled Dukkah *(see below for more on this Egyptian spice blend) and asked if I’d ever cooked with it. i had not. Ottolenghi deli Notting Hillsaid jar was promptly paid for and tossed in my bag. “i’m sure my cousi will find a great way to use it” she said. well, i finally got around to using the Dukkah in a green bean and roasted chickpea (garbanzo) salad inspired by the genius food we’d shared that glorious sunny day in London. it was such a successful dish: pure and simple, filling, good for you, slightly spicy, crunchy, and really full of flavor. it’s been added to the list of favorites. i’m thinking a fresh jar of Dukkah might be just the excuse for another trip to London. i wish. :-)dukkah roasted garbanzo beans

ingredients for 4-6 servings of salad:

  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (see roasted garbanzo bean recipe here-add Dukkah to the beans prior to roasting)-for roasting the beans you will need extra virgin olive oil, spices such as dukkah or cumin and cayenne pepper  for spiciness, sea salt, & pepper (to taste)
  • 2-3 cups cleaned haricots verts (or green beans), cooked for just a few minutes in lightly salted rapidly boiling water (until just tender) and then cooled down in ice bath to retain color and crispness
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (julienned)
  • 1 cup sliced (cubed) ripe tomatoes
  • 4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 tbs home made walnut-parsley easto (recipe below)
  • 1/2 of a small lemon or a lime, freshly juiced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup or lightly more crumbled french feta cheese

for the walnut-parsley pesto blend together in a blender with a steel blade:

green bean salad with pesto dressing

 

  • 1 large bunch (1 cup) fresh organic flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh organic basil (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 10-12 raw walnuts
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • a few tsp of water may be needed to add to the blender to soften the pesto

build the salad in a shallow bowl starting with the cold (cooked) beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, chives or scallions, and crumbled cheese. top with slightly cooled but still crisp roasted garbanzo beans. dress with pesto dressing and mix just prior to serving. for the dressing combine 4-5 tbs of the pesto with lemon/lime juice and a few more tsp of olive oil if needed, mix well. taste and adjust seasoning. drizzle over the salad just before serving.

*Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture often served (marinated in olive oil) with pita bread. to make your own you will need:

  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

toast the sesame seeds and hazelnuts in the oven (separately), then combine all ingredients and grind in food processor for 3-4 minutes.

 

 

(Visited 77 times, 1 visits today)

{surprisingly} delicious kale and brussels sprouts salad

it’s been a big challenge to incorporate the now famous “super” green aka KALE into our diet. i’ve made the chips (not as easy as they make it sound-they burn  so easily), used it in stews and soups (not a bad option), and (rather reluctantly) in my smoothies. after watching the inspiring and miraculous story of Dr. Terry Wahls {who used diet to cure her MS-check it out: video} my husband asked if we could have some kale (surprise) for dinner! being quite the dutiful wife (haha), i had to come up with a tasty recipe using raw kale. in doing the research, i came across several cooked recipes using kale with brussels sprouts.  i  decided to combine the two greens in a raw salad by shredding (or thinly slicing) them as finely as possible-which is the only hard thing about this recipe, by the way. the resulting {seriously delicious and addictive} salad has become  such a hit with family and friends that i’m beginning to feel it in my right hand (mandolin is recommended for the brussels sprouts)! i now only offer to share the recipe, which follows…

ingredients for about 4 servings:

  • 1 large bunch (about 12-14 stalks) organic lacinato kale, deveined-cut as thinly (shredded) as possible
  • 12-14 brussels sprouts-cut in half, and thinly sliced (easiest using a mandolin) 
  • chopped walnuts (1/4 cup or so)
  • good quality parmesan cheese (shaved regiano is best) to taste (or substitute with a ripe chopped avocado-or add both)
Shallot vinaigrette: 
  • 1/4 of a shallot very finely minced 
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste 
  • juice of 1/2-1 lemon, freshly squeezed 
  • 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
whisk together until thickened, pour dressing over salad & mix about 10-15 minutes before serving.
 
(Visited 37 times, 1 visits today)