June 22, 2012

Mushroom Barley Salad

Dear readers,
     You may have noticed that some time has passed since the last post...and that some time had passed before that one. I can explain. You see, I was a first year teacher and let me tell you, the end of the school year is nuts. I kept thinking that I would get around to making something, maybe alfajores, but no such luck. Since my bff and co-blogger Amber has been busy at work--and away on her honeymoon!--things have been too quiet around here. Sorry for that! I'm planning to get back on track this summer.
      Let the cooking begin!
Love, Alexis
Sorry about photo quality--I had to resort to using my iPhone.
     I started getting The Food Network Magazine a few months ago, because Amber gave me a gift subscription for Christmas. (Thanks!!) The magazine is entertaining to read and always features very approachable recipes. I LOVE Saveur, but I don't usually end up make too many of its recipes. The TNW, on the other hand, has tons of practical weekday meals as well as more ambitious weekend projects. I had yet to make a FNW recipe, which I felt was completely unacceptable.
    When the new issue arrived a couple of days ago I dug around for something simple to ease my way back into the kitchen. I decided on a mushroom barley salad recipe. Mushrooms? Barley? Always a happy couple!
     The original recipe was a side dish, but I tweaked it and re-imagined it as a main. If you are good at planning ahead, soak your barley over night in to shorten the cooking time. Conversely, I cooked my barley earlier in the day, then warmed it up and mixed in the other ingredients at dinnertime. The lemon I used was huge, so the "juice from one lemon" was slightly overpowering. Other than that, this recipe is simple and satisfying. It can be served hot or cold. I considered adding garlic when sauteeing the veggies, but decided to stay closer to the original with this version. If you feel adventurous and want to try the garlic, let me know how it goes.

Mushroom and Barley Salad
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 1/2 cups broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 20 or so shrimp (we used pre-cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Juice from one lemon (small or medium-sized, not too large)
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain or dijon mustard   (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring broth to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in barley and cook for 15 minutes (for pre-soaked barley) or 35-40 minutes (for unsoaked).
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Sautee about 5 minutes, then stir in mushrooms. Continue cooking until mushrooms are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Stir in shrimp, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Then add spinach and continue stirring just until spinach starts to wilt, 1-2 minutes.
  3. In large bowl, whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the barley mixture and toss. Adjust seasoning as needed. Can be served hot or cold (though be aware of food safety issues if serving cold).
Serves 4

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