This is a salad my wife makes as a “side” for lunches and we really like it. We made it recently and found out that we have not blogged it. This salad will go well with sandwiches or any Western-style entree but, it’s also a good drinking snack on its own. This will go with red wine or sake.
There are many ingredients and we like them all together but you can omit or substitute. Besides the barley, Feta cheese, walnuts and onion are “musts”.
Barley: We used Quaker oats Medium pearl barley* (1 cup). My wife first dry roasted the barley in a dry frying pan until it started smoking. After it cooled down somewhat, she rinsed it under cold running water. (Although she would have rinsed the barley after roasting anyway, in this case the rinsing “put out the fire”)… despite the pyrotechnics the barley had a nice roasted flavor. This appears to add flavor and the step should not be skipped.
Instead of water, she used non-fat reduced salt chicken broth from Swanson. Following the recipe, she added 4 and 1/3 cup of liquid but, in retrospect, 4 cups would have been enough. At the end of 1 hour of simmering with a lid on, there was still liquid left and she strained the barley and then again washed it under the cold running water (to remove the "sliminess").
*My understanding of this product is that the outer hulls are removed, and grain polished (pearled) to remove bran on the surface. I am not sure about "Medium" designation (cooking time on the box was 40-45 minutes).
Onion: I finely chopped (two small).
Celery: I chopped celery finely after removing the veins (3 stalks).
Walnuts: My wife first roasted them in the toaster oven and removed the brown skin by rubbing between the dish towel and coarsely chopped (1/2 cup).
Olives: I used mixture of oil-cured black olives and spicy green olives, pits remove and coarsely chopped (amount arbitrary but about 1/2 cup combined).
Feta cheese: I crumbled a block of feta cheese (about 1/2 cup).
Parsley: finely chopped (the amount is arbitrary, I used 4 sprigs).
Dressing: mixture of olive oil, rice vinegar and Dijon mustard (about a 4:1:1 ratio).
I mixed all the ingredients and the dressing up and seasoned it with cracked black pepper. I tasted it and it had enough saltiness (from chicken broth in which the barley was cooked, olive and feta) and I did not add any salt.
This tasted better after sitting in the refrigerator for few hours since all the flavors will meld together. The barley has a nice texture and nutty roasted flavor, the walnuts provide additional crunch, and the olives give bursts of saltiness along with the feta. It’s a nice complex salad.