I have cooked with whole grains for a long time. My fascination began, simply enough, with bulgur wheat used to make tabouleh. It was a gateway to all sorts of other grains; winter wheat, soft summer wheat, oat groats, farro, you get the idea. There are lots of grains readily available that a few short years ago were very difficult to locate. A good earthy health food store went a long way to rectifying the shortage but now about every food store carries some sort of whole grain.
There are multiple ways to cook grains but I feel it easiest to follow the directions on the package for the simple method. Generally speaking the company knows how best to cook their own product. I am a proponent of pressure cooking and I more often then not cook grains under pressure by using the same amount of grain and water for which the recipe calls. In the case of my barley the ratio was 1 cup barley to 3 1/2 cups water. I reduce the cooking time to a third of the original, 1 hour becomes 20 minutes.. When my cooker cools and I remove the lid there is often extra water but when cooking grains for a salad, as opposed to porridge, it is no issue to drain any excess moisture.
The salad add-ins are interchangeable as well. If green olives are preferred over black, fresh tomatoes over sun-dried, then by all means use what you like. Mint would be a good addition to the parsley, maybe arugula, even pine nuts or almonds. This is a versatile salad and it is best when you make it your own.
2 cups pearl barley, cooked
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup goat cheese or feta, crumbled
Extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl.
- Season with 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir thoroughly to combine then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the top.
- Stir in a 1/4 cup parsley leaves.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. If needed you can add more oil and lemon juice to taste. Serves 2