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Barley, Pomegranate and Orange Salad

While searching for a recipe to serve at my recent book group dinner, where the book was set in Israel, I naturally thought of  Yotam Ottolenghi, the pre-eminent Israeli chef whose cookbooks (and restaurants in London) are a treasure trove of Middle Eastern cooking.  I was surprised to find a salad using bulgur, since I associated the grain mostly with soups. Since pomegranates are a favorite of mine, the recipe was calling my name. Although not included in Ottolenghi’s recipe, I felt the urge to add the oranges — both blood oranges and cara cara oranges — since they were in season and added more color and flavor. The celery leaves are crucial in this recipe, and unfortunately most celery in supermarkets has scant leaves. If you’re lucky enough to find a locally grown bunch of celery, you’ll more likely to find leaves on the ends of the stalks. But even with the supermarket celery, I managed to pluck enough leaves to add to the recipe. This salad is delicious even several days after making it, so keep it in mind for a do-ahead recipe to take to a party.

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Barley Salad
 
Recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's book "Plenty"
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 6 celery stalks (leaves picked and reserved), cut into dice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • ⅔ teaspoon ground allspice
  • salt, black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • sections from 2 oranges (I used one cara cara and one blood orange)
Instructions
  1. Cook the barley according to package directions.
  2. Usually, it is simply placed in a pot and covered with water, then boiled for about 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the barley and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the celery, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice and salt and pepper.
  5. Stir, then leave to cool completely.
  6. When it's cool, add the herbs, celery leaves, pomegranate seeds and orange sections.
  7. Squeeze the juice from the remaining pulpy part of the orange that's left into the bowl and mix.
  8. Serve.
 

Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

Although the calendar says Spring, there’s still a nip in the air most days, and it will be a while before we in the Northeast U.S. can reliably leave the house without wearing a jacket or sweater. So for those days in between seasons, when it can still feel a bit chilly, this mushroom beef barley soup is like a warm hug at the dinner table. You can make this without the beef, but I found it an ideal way to use up a small bit of leftover pot roast I had made a couple of days earlier. It was only a couple of ounces, but when shredded and added to the soup, it added a real depth of flavor.

Use any kind of mushrooms you want – from supermarket white button mushrooms to shiitake. I used baby portobello mushrooms. I also added a parmesan rind to the soup as it was simmering, something I do with many kinds of soups.

It takes only about forty five minutes from start to finish to make this satisfying and delicious soup, and with a side salad and a good loaf of bread, dinner is ready.

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Mushroom Beef Barley Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup minced carrot
  • ¼ cup minced celery
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portobello mushrooms, but use any mixture you like)
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 leftover parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 cup shredded leftover beef stew (optional)
  • salt, pepper
  • minced parsley
Instructions
  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in the olive oil over low heat, until limp.
  2. Add the butter and mushrooms and sauté a few minutes.
  3. Add the barley, the broths, the water, the parmesan cheese rind, the leftover beef stew plus the salt and pepper.
  4. Cook over low heat for about 30- 45 minutes or until barley is softened and flavors have blended.
  5. Add parsley at the end, and serve with grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.
  6. The barley will swell as the soup cooks and if the soup gets too thick, add more water.