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.
(Images: Emily Ho)