7.18.2013

Get on the Grain Salad Bandwagon, it's Delicous.

Midsummer is my favorite time for the delicious grain salads that remind me of Italy. My first encounter was a barley, farro, and rice salad mixed with prosciutto cotto, peas and herbs while I sat in the kitchen of an agriturismo in the Bolognese hills. Nothing ever tasted so delicious in my life.  Served at room temperature these are healthy, filling and make a great aperitivo with an aperol spritz or as a side to hearty grilled meats such a lamb or pork. I had almost completely forgotten all about them after I moved back to the states but my inspiration to start making them again was dinner at The Granite Restaurant in Concord. Grilled Moroccan lamb rib chops with a barley salad that was so delicious, I couldn't stop thinking about it for days. 

The combinations are pretty much endless, depending on your tastes, and the grains are easily interchangeable or combined for a delicous mixed grain salad. Most grains such as barely or farro are easy to cook plus just as easily found in supermarkets and specialty gourmet grocers. Below are two of my favorite recipes but they are really just a base for what's in season or in your fridge; use lima beans instead of chickpeas or baby kale instead of arugula. White long grain and wild rice, sweet peas and smoked oysters would be a lovely combination without much fuss. Either way, keep it simply dressed and throw in your favorite fresh herbs or greens and you've got a refreshing, plus satisfying salad on your hands!
 


Summer Barley Salad
Serves four lunch portions or eight side dish portions 
Ingredients
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts, plus two tablespoons of brine
1 can of chickpeas, drain and rinsed
4 tomatoes, cut into eighths 
2 cups pearled barley
arugula
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, arrange tomatoes on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and flaky sea salt such as Maldon, roast until soft and caramelized around the edges, about 45 minutes to one hour. Meanwhile cook barley according to package directions, rinse with cool water and drain. While the barley and tomatoes are cooking mix lemon zest and juice, shallot, artichoke hearts, and chickpeas in a large bowl. Toss with drained barley, roasted tomatoes and good extra virgin olive oil  to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on a bed of arugula for a light lunch or on the side of your favorite grilled meat.


Farro with Sautéed Asparagus and Shrimp
Serves four lunch portions or eight side dish portions
Ingredients
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lb of large raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup of oil cured black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 cups of farro 
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
arugula
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil  

Method:
Cook farro according to package directions, rinse with cool water and drain. In a large bowl combine farro, lemon zest and juice, shallots and olives. On medium heat sauté the asparagus until just tender about 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness, set aside to cool. In the same pan sauté shrimp on medium high heat for five minutes until pink, toss in garlic and cook additional two minutes or so until fragrant and golden. Add hot shrimp and garlic to bowl with other ingredients. Chop asparagus into approximately two inch pieces and toss with olive oil to taste and a healthy amount of parmigiano-reggiano into the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately on a bed of arugula and red pepper flakes. 


Buon appetito!




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