Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mediterranean Barley Salad - Go to Your Happy Place

Artichoke Hearts
Featured Ingredient: Artichoke Hearts

Spring is around the corner.  The snow, at least the less than 8 foot piles, have melted, and purple crocuses are appearing in random patches.  In celebration of the turning of the season, I thought I would contribute a refreshing cold salad, studded with colorful vegetables and herbs.

This dish was inspired by one created at my favorite grocery store.  Palmer's Market in Darien, CT has been around since 1921.  What was once a small general store is now a gourmet destination run by the at least the 3rd maybe 4th generation of Palmers. Their prepared deli foods are not what you would expect to find.  Dishes like Pistachio Crusted Mahi Mahi and Lobster Ravioli share space with the more typical Tuna Salad and Country Cole Slaw.  Palmer's is 20 miles away from me, so I'm not in the neighborhood too often.  But when I am in the immediate vicinity you will always find me stocking up on meats, fresh baked monster cookies, and surveying what's behind the glass in the deli section. I affectionately call Palmer's my Happy Place.  If I tell my husband I'm going to my Happy Place he knows exactly where I'm headed. If on the day I go they have Mediterranean Barley Salad (which is not something they offer all the time) my day is made.

It's more of a spring or summer dish so I haven't seen it in a while. So it was time to figure out the recipe myself.  I took a vinaigrette from one recipe that sounded good, cooked the barley and randomly threw in the same ingredients as Palmer's and... Success! It tasted identical if not as wonderful.  As if it was meant to be, I arrived at my Happy Place.

Mediterranean Barley Salad - Serves 6 (as a side dish)

1 cup pearl barley
1tsp olive oil
3 cups chicken stock* (Use vegetable stock for a totally vegetarian option)
1 can artichoke hearts (2/3 cup sliced)
10 Kalamata olives - seeds removed
1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
1/2 cup red pepper diced (You can use red, orange, or yellow or a mix - green not recommended)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 oz. feta cheese diced
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Heat chicken stock and oil to a boil add barley and turn to low. Simmer for 40 minutes until barley is tender.
* You can drain any excess liquid. Layout on a sheet pan lined with parchment to speed up cooling process.

Meanwhile... chop/dice and prep remaining salad ingredients

Barley Salad Prep - I ran out of prep bowls

Make dressing:
Mix lemon juice and sherry vinegar into a bowl.  Add olive oil in a slow stream while whisking to form an emulsion.

Add cooled (not cold) barley to a large bowl.  Add dressing and all ingredients except cheese. Mix well, but gently.  Slowly fold in cheese.

Let chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, to help mesh the flavors. The olives and feta are very salty so the dish doesn't need any additional salt.

Happy Spring!

Mediterranean Barley Salad

1 comment:

  1. Oh that looks so good & healthy! I DEFINITELY want to try this one! Haha your "happy Place" reminds me of a little diamond in the rough out here too =)