Barley, Corn, and Red Pepper 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 had a dog who was allergic to grain and couldn'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 cooked 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*! I'm also a big fan of Quick cooking Barley, which you'll find in the rice section of your grocery store.
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, Corn and Red Pepper Salad
1 cup barley
1 red bell pepper
1 bag frozen yellow corn
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. (Not necessary if using the quick cooking type. Just follow the cooking instructions on the box and jump to #4 on this recipe.)
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 - 45 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.