Here's a spring salad that's equally satisfying for a workday lunch or a weekend picnic. Light yet filling, it combines chewy, nutritious barley with two seasonal treats – young green garlic and crisp sugar snap peas.
Though not difficult to make, the recipe does take some advance planning to cook and cool the barley before tossing it with a creamy, pesto-like green garlic sauce and lightly cooked sugar snap peas. We use hulled barley, which takes a while to cook but is much more nutritious than pearl barley. This is a great opportunity to follow Emma's advice for quickly cooling grains and legumes on a baking sheet.
Barley Salad With Green Garlic and Snap Peas
1 cup hulled barley 3 cups water 2 stalks green garlic (white and light green parts only), cut into 1-inch pieces* 2 tablespoons toasted almonds 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon lemon zest Coarse kosher salt 8 ounces sugar snap peas 2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
Cook and cool barley: Combine barley and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool completely.
Make green garlic sauce: Blend green garlic, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor or blender until smooth. If the mixture is very thick or dry, mix in 1-2 tablespoons of water.
Blanch sugar snap peas: Have ready a large bowl of ice water, a slotted spoon, and a plate lined with a cloth or paper towel. Bring a pan of water to boil over high heat. Add a tablespoon of salt and the snap peas and boil just until bright green and crisp, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Quickly remove the snap peas with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice bath. When the peas are completely cool, remove them from the ice bath and drain on the towel-lined plate. Cut the snap peas lengthwise on the diagonal.
Assemble salad: In a large bowl, combine barley and green garlic sauce. Then mix in snap peas and mint. Season to taste and serve immediately or keep covered in the refrigerator.
*Note: Green garlic is much more mild than mature garlic and we like it just fine raw. However, if you prefer, it can be blanched first to mellow out the flavor.