Saturday, May 29, 2010

Barley, Red Pepper & Corn Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads. It's great in the winter, too, but for some reason, it screams outdoor eating to me. Unlike some of its summer salad cousins, it's very healthy. The main ingredient is barley, a food that is woefully underrepresented in our diets. Cholesterol-free and lowfat, it supposedly aids in prevention of heart disease and diabetes. It's rich in fiber and minerals, too. You'd think we would eat more of it.

Aside from my personal fondness for the flavor and texture of this salad, it's pretty and colorful. Bring it to a gathering, and you won't find that 15 other people have brought it, too! For some reason, men seem to like it a lot, though as Julie would say, your mileage may vary on that! It's a nice change from the mayonnaise-dressed salads.

The original recipe came from an old Gourmet cookbook. Over the years, I've tried to improve on it, but this is one of those recipes that was nailed by the folks at Gourmet. I always go back to the original.

I have a dog who is allergic to grain and can't eat dog food, so barley (which is a grain but doesn't contain the thing that triggers grain allergies) is one of the foods that I cook for him every week. Consequently, I've cooked a lot of the stuff. I've discovered that the pearled barley in the bulk bins at my health food store is much nicer quality than the bagged barley at my regular grocery store. It expands more and has a better texture. I have not prepared this dish with hulled barley, which is supposed to be even better for us. I find hulled barley to be a bit like eating bark straight off the tree. Enough said about *that*!

Note also that I have tried making this with a variety of vinegars over the years, basically whatever I happened to have on hand. Stick to white wine vinegar. Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, herbed vinegars, and apple cider vinegar simply don't work. The flavor is not right.

Barley, Red Pepper and Corn Salad

1 cup barley
1 red bell pepper
1 bag frozen yellow corn
fresh parsley
2 tablespoons and one teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Spread double paper towels on a counter or baking sheet and pour the frozen corn onto it. Spread out and allow to thaw. (No cooking!)

2. Rinse the dry barley and drain.

3.Bring salted water in a large pot to a boil. Slowly add the barley. Return to a boil and turn the heat down so it boils gently but doesn't boil over. (Watch out -- barley boils over rather easily.) Remove the foam by skimming it. Cook for 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy.

4. Meanwhile, slice the red pepper into bite-sized pieces and chop parsley.

5. Drain the cooked barley and rinse under cold water. Let stand until cool.

6. In a small mixing bowl, add salt and pepper to the vinegar. Add the olive oil slowly, whisking it to blend.

7. Combine the cool barley, thawed corn, and red pepper in a serving bowl. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over top and toss to coat.

8. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley just before serving.

Enjoy and have a delicious Memorial Day weekend!

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  1. I think I might give this a go with grilled corn! I do love salads like this -- an excellent alternative to the mayo-based ones we usually make for summer meals. Great tips on the health benefits of barley, too. Have a wonderful weekend, Krista!

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. How wonderful that you help out your doggie by making all his special food! Love the salad. Fun, colorful.


  3. Cleo, I think it would be wonderful with grilled corn but I haven't seen any fresh organic corn here yet. Besides, I do like the lazy part about not needing to cook the corn. : )

    Avery, it's not a matter of helping out. If I had known that taking him off commercial dog food would cure the problem, I would have done it years earlier! Of course, he can't have this salad because of the other grain -- corn.

    I just had grilled Alaskan cod with this salad for lunch and it was the perfect light summer lunch. Really lovely.

  4. That's pretty! Wonder if it would be ok with halved cherry or grape tomatoes instead of the red pepper? (Peppers are the only veggie I won't eat...).

  5. Oh, that is pretty. Barley, huh? Now I'll
    have to add that to my list of things to pick
    up at Sprouts (love that store). Thanks for the

  6. Shel, I think tomatoes would work. They won't have the same crunch, of course, but why not give it a shot?

    Always glad to inspire, Jenn. Sprouts is a great name for a natural food store. You would think all barley would be about the same, but it's not!

    ~ Krista

  7. This is so pretty, Krista! I love the festive colors. Looks perfect for a Memorial Day dinner!

  8. I love barley. I love corn. I love red peppers. I think I'm going to give this one a try. Thanks, Krista!

  9. This sounds great, Krista!! Sorry to post so late... running all day today and just taking a break while the Chicago Blackhawks - vying for the Stanley Cup - go to commercial.

    Your salad sounds so fresh and delicious. I am definitely going to try this one. Love the combination! I do have a mayonnaise-y salad I plan to post soon. Boy, are we in summer food mood or what?


  10. Thanks, Elizabeth. It does look festive and is always popular.

    Alan, sounds like it's perfect for you!

    Julie, it was such a dreary, long winter that we're all way past ready to go outside and live it up. I think your vegetarian daughter might like this salad!

    ~ Krista