Work lunches baffle me. A leafy salad never satiates, sandwiches mean baking fresh bread pretty much every day (there’s no buying fresh bread up here), and what the heck do you put in wraps to fill them out? While I have extensively explored all of these options for our work lunches (in particular one very good egg salad on no-knead buns, and some fantastic black bean hummus wrapped in flour tortillas), this one, a pearl barley salad, has been a favorite for us both.
This salad, or so I call it for lack of a better title, is hearty, filling and flavorsome. Jesse, who is definitely a sandwich-packed-with fillings-and-plenty-of-cheese type of guy returns from work raving about it.
I like to cook the barley only until it is slightly nutty, rather than soft. It can be cooked in chicken stock for extra flavor, or plain which I prefer (as I rinse it under running water to cool it quickly, losing any stock flavor at the same time). What follows is a bit of a non-recipe really.
It goes something like this: Cook barley. Toss in some fruit or veges, chickpeas or cheese. Drizzle over a simple dressing. Pack it into a tupperware lunch box. And don’t forget a fork.
Take it down to the river with a copy of the latest Guardian Weekly (very interesting article I was reading that day) for a peaceful (and rather educational) lunch-break. (Keeping an eye out for the friendly black bear who has been forraging for berries nearby my frequent..)
Summer Barley Salad
Cook the barley in a large pot (1/2 cup barley to 1 cup water) for 25 – 30 minutes (I check at around 20 as I do like mine a little nutty). Once cooked to liking, drain into a large sieve and run water through it to cool. At this stage I stir through a little extra virgin olive oil (to try to minimize clumping) and pop it into the fridge overnight ready to make it into a salad in the morning.
Add the following (or whatever you jolly well feel like adding):
Cherry tomatoes (or roughly chopped large tomatoes or sundried tomatoes)
Left over roast vegetables
Season well with salt & pepper.
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Squeeze of lemon juice