For this month’s Royal Foodie Joust hosted by The Leftover Queen/Foodie Blogroll Forum, the ingredients are perfect for the summer: basil, strawberry and whole grains. Basil and strawberry are something we have all the time but enjoy more during the summer months when they are in abundance. As for whole grains, they mostly figure in our baked goods like bread or breakfast meals such as oats in granola. A few years back, I was introduced to quinoa and now often serve it with grilled fish instead of rice. But for this joust, I am using pearled barley for my whole grains. I debated on whether to make something sweet or savory. I tasted barley pudding a long time ago in England and really liked it. But with all the baking I have been doing lately, my number one taste-tester (my husband) just couldn’t take any more sweet stuff– at least for the next two weeks! So I made whole grain salad instead. I made a version of this salad using bulgur wheat. The crunch of the grain went very well with the nuts. This time I am adding chopped strawberry and incorporating both fruit and the basil leaves in the dressing as well.
BASIL BARLEY AND STRAWBERRY SALAD
- 1 cup pearled barley, soaked in two cups water overnight then drained
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 5 or 6 pieces grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- a handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
- juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbs agave nectar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Boil water in a sauce pan and add soaked barley. Cook until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Combine lemon juice, olive oil, agave nectar, salt and pepper.
- Transfer cooked barley in a bowl. Add nuts, tomatoes, strawberries and basil leaves. Mix carefully to combine.
- Drizzle dressing over barley mixture. Toss and chill at least an hour (overnight is best!) before serving.
Notes: This is great served with any grilled foods. They also taste better the next day. This dressing is mixed the way we like to have it with grains. You might want to use less oil and more agave nectar, sugar or honey. Vinaigrettes work best since creamy dressings tend to be too heavy for this salad.