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I am a wife, mother, teacher, runner, baker, fund-raiser, reader, watcher of movies, dog-lover, writer, music-lover and foodie. So - I'm a woman of many moods! I write and share in order to teach and enrich. I currently have two blogs going: The Kitchen Refugee, and A Mile At A Time. The first is about time spent in the kitchen and the second about time spent on the road. Frequently the two roads intersect!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gramma T.'s Barley Salad

In my last post I wrote about the end of the gardening season, and all that fresh lovely produce that will soon be replaced by store-bought, lightly colored, barely flavored, roughage.  Booo!

One of our favorite summer delights is a barley salad my mother in law makes.  When I asked for the recipe, like most good dishes, I found out there isn't one.  Now, when I was a young bride and new cook, this used to frustrate me no end.  Now I understand that many things are made 'to taste' and all you need is the general idea.  Barley Salad is no exception.  I asked if we could make it together, and showed up at her house with notepad in hand.

Gerry had already pre-cooked and cooled some barely, so the rest of the ingredients needed to be snipped or picked from the garden, washed and diced.  Nothing like an hours-old salad!  (This one does need to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours in order for all the flavors to gel.)

Here's the idea:

'Scant' 1/2 cup of pearl barley, cooked and cooled (barley quadruples in size)
Parsley  (possibly 2-3 TB)
Basil leaves (possibly 1 TB - uncooked, it has a strong flavor )
Dill (a little goes a long way - but I love it!)
1 Stalk of celery
Green pepper (1/2 of one?!)
2 med-lrg. tomatoes - skinned & seeded
Cucumber, seeded (how much depends on the size of them - we used about 3 little pickling cucs)
Miracle Whip - 1/4 - 1/2 cup - add as you go so the salad doesn't get too wet
1-2 TB Ranch dressing powdered mix
(This amount served 4 adults with about a cup of extra salad left over.)

On the off chance that I have an novice chef amongst my readers, I'll explain about skinning a tomato;
Drop it into boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove from hot water and drop into a bowl of cold water.  The skin should slip right off.  I saw a chef on Food Network slice a little X on one end of the tomatoes to give her an 'in' to the skin.  It looked pretty easy.  You don't want to cook the tomato, just loosen its skin a bit.

I had never heard the term 'California Salad' before and I don't know from what era it comes.  Gerry says it had to do with fresh ingredients from the garden - whatever you have, added to a grain.  No recipes were passed around, it just became the term for seasonal salads.  The thing I think we really love about this salad - besides the absolute freshness of it, is that each ingredient is minced.  There is nothing in the salad bigger than the barley.  This extra touch makes it  so delicate, it's just really lovely!

I don't know about you, but I haven't had Miracle Whip in my house since...EVER.  My mom used to use it and I think I had my fill as a child.  I'm not much on mayo, but Miracle Whip is something I associate with bologna-white-bread sandwiches.  ICK!  In this case, though, I wouldn't consider a substitution.  Trust me this salad works!

Okay - so barley, chopped veggies/herbs, and then slowly add a plop of Miracle Whip.  This isn't a salad that's swimming in sauce - let the fresh flavors carry it, and the 'sauce' just smooth it together a little.  Even though we've seeded the cucs and tomatoes, they still add quite a bit to the moisture content.  Sprinkle in 1-2 TB of dry Ranch Dressing mix, and just give it a taste.  All of the ingredients depend upon what you love, and what you have growing in your yard.

Friday night we had dinner with both our moms - I made a meatloaf with organic beef from a friend's ranch.  This was also the day of the Chocolate Cream Pie!  Gerry and I made the barley salad together, and the corn on the cob was dropped into the pot of boiling water minutes after it was picked. My mom got to show up empty handed!  This was truly one of those end of summer meals that was just meant to be savored! It  was all good, and it was nice to share it with family.

1 comment:

  1. I always make my own tomato sauce for pasta. I never saw the X thing. It might make peeling easier. I'll give it a shot. Thanks.