BEST GRAIN SALADS: Rice Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Cashews; Grandpa Caprese Panzanella; Lemon Couscous Salad With Cilantro, Raisins, & Almonds; Quinoa Tabouli with Mint, Parsley, and Preserved Lemons; Teriyaki Soba Salad.
One of the perks of having written a cookbook besides, well, pride and joy, is having an archive of perfectly tested recipes that cater precisely to your tastes. While it’s rare that I follow a recipe in the kitchen, choosing instead to follow my whims and the ingredients in my fridge, it is nice to have a base formula that I know I can count on. You know, rather than changing everything about a recipe, I can just throw in additions and substitutions here and there.
Though it’s published in our joint cookbook, technically speaking, this recipe comes from a salad Phoebe developed. She first brought Corn and Barley Salad to Mag Club in the spring of 2009, aka eons ago.
Funnily enough, Phoebe claims that her inspiration from this dish came from none other than…me!
Her (vintage) words:
Because it wouldn’t suffice at Mag Club to say my inspiration for this dish came from Cara, who’s been making a lot of seldom-used grains lately, I’ll draw my parallel from the April issue of Teen Vogue. Usually I would not publicly admit to reading this magazine, but I found the spread below—springtime for teenage hillbillies, as I would call it—very inspiring at work, where they pay me to think like a fifteen-year-old girl. Anyway, it seems like the March frost has finally cleared on the farm, a budding springtime Romance is underway, and in Teen Vogue world, that mean’s it’s time for little Dorothy to break out her favorite Marc Jacobs hat and Miu Miu stilettos.
Ah, memories! Looking back, I suppose the reason I was making so many grain salads around that time was because they’re a filling, healthful alternative to other plate-filling carbs like bread and mashed potatoes. Especially in summer, when I don’t want to be too full to run around outdoors (or pull on my bikini), I’m pretty happy to sub in quinoa, bulgur, and barley for my standard white sourdough. Best of all, grain salads can be a full meal (like this Quinoa Salad with Basil Vinaigrette, Corn, and Black Beans), deeming them perfect make-ahead vegetarian picnic food.
From my kitchen, nostalgic for grain salads and inventing new ones, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Chipotle Barley Salad with Corn, Zucchini, and Radishes
Adapted from In the Small Kitchen
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup pearl barley, thoroughly rinsed in cold water and drained
1 cup diced zucchini
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or shallot
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons adobo from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, plus a little chopped chipotle
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup corn kernels, cut from the cob or defrosted frozen
1/4 cup diced radishes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
In a medium stockpot, bring 2 1/2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the barley and reduce to low heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, until the barley is al dente. If liquid remians, drain the barley in a colander or use the lid of the pot to strain off any excess moisture. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring another small pot of water to boil and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the diced zucchini and cook for about 2 minutes, until the zucchini is just cooked. Drain in a colander and shock with cold water. Drain again and set aside.
In a salad bowl, whisk together the red onion, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, and adobo. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking as you go, until the dressing is emulsified. Stir in the cumin and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.
Add the barley, zucchini, corn, radishes, and cilantro and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning, and serve at room temperature, garnished with the extra cilantro. This can be made up to a day in advance and stored in the fridge. Let come to room temp before serving.