Mediterranean Barley Salad

If barley salad could be classified as decadent then here it is. One could consider this a healthy dish, but with barley, navy beans, pepperoni and olives as the key ingredients it's on the higher end of calories and fat. On the bright side it is very filling and makes a great small meal or small side and is packed with flavors and textures that make you want to shovel it into your mouth as fast as possible. Beware!
Start with barley in a pot. Quaker makes a nice quick-cook barley that works well. This particular batch will be done in 10 minutes. Perfect.

In the meantime, we have pepperoni!

Add about a dozen slices of pepperoni to some diced roasted red peppers and Kalamata olives. Kalamata olives, I find, can be a little tough or chewy. I've successfully substituted regular black olives for this recipe, and it works out fine.

I love red onion. I love onions in general, but I find that recipes typically call for way too much onion. Or, perhaps I'm just sensitive to them. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup, but depending on the strength of your onion you may want to even half that to 1/8 cup. The idea here is to get a little bit of that zip in every bite without having the onion overpower the rest of the ingredients. This is why Gordan Ramsay implores you to taste your food at every step. 

1/4 tsp of dried red pepper flakes. Jen and I miss Tenuta's very much. We don't have a proper Italian deli/grocery where we are now. Perhaps I need to find an investor...

and finish this phase with 2 oz crumbled feta. Jen likes for me to substitute cottage cheese for the feta. In fact, if I even say "feta" she immediately yells, "Feeta! feeta! You mean feet-a cheese!" The feeling is not mutual for me. I enjoy the briny flavor of the cheese and do not think it smells even remotely close to feet. Gorgonzola, on the other hand, smells like a full Diaper Genie.

The barley should be done by now. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Add a can of navy beans, rinse and drain.

beans and barley into the bowl..

Next we're going to add an entire can of hearts of palm (drained and rinsed). Here's what it looks like for those of you who have never heard of this before. I've only heard of recently because Emeril was working with it on his daytime show a couple years ago.

Hearts of palm out of the can - drained and rinsed (it comes canned in a brine that you just don't need for this recipe). It's soft and fibrous and sort of has a briny flavor. Not something to snack on but nothing to be timid about either. For the barley salad it adds a nice texture and body.

Slice it up...
As your cutting if you feel any toughness - like you're cutting through thick paper, see if you can find those layers, peel and discard. You won't want to try and chew that. I've only had this problem once...

and palms into the bowl..

season with basil, cider vinegar, a little salt and a little pepper

Fold the salad - don't stir it, be gentle, don't kill it.

It's ready to eat now or keep it in the fridge until you're ready for it.

Have fun making and eating this. This is one of Jen's faves and I've gotten nothing but compliments from others as well.

Mediterranian Barley Salad

Best-Loved Whole Grain Recipes

1 1/3 C water
2/3 C quick-cooking barley

1/2 C roasted red peppers, diced
12 pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
12 turkey pepperoni slices, halved
1/4 C red onion, chopped
2 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 can (15 oz) navy beans
1 can (14 oz) hearts of palm, drained and sliced
1 T olive oil
1 T cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Barley preparation:
Bring water to a boil in saucepan. Add barley, return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until barley is tender.

Meanwhile, combine roasted red peppers, olives, pepperoni, onion, feta, basil, and red pepper flakes in a bowl.
Drain barley and beans in colander. Run under cold water until barley is cool and beans are rinsed. Add barley, beans and hearts of palm to roasted red pepper mixture. stir in oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome chilled, but you get better flavor at room temp after it's just been made.

    The hearts of palm are kind of like celery hearts, which is really the only part of the celery I like. (The outside makes my tongue numb, due to the Eugenol. Seriously. look it up)

    Oh yea, hearts of palm are also called swamp cabbage in case you're from the holler. :)