Until last night, I have never tried to cook barley and I had no idea what to do with it. I only bought it because I am exploring “whole grains” and Whole Foods was out of the bulk quinoa. In conversations with some of my friends in the culinary world, I was told that barley tastes great hot or cold and I should treat it like any other grain or pasta. After cooking a test batch, I discovered that barley has almost a meaty texture that would stand up to strong flavors. In fact, barley would make a wonderful base for a cool summer vegetarian dish that even meat-eaters will enjoy. So this is what I came up with.
2 cups cooked and cooled barley
1 cup blanched asparagus tips
2 – 3 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
3 tablespoons of a fruity extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lime
Salt to taste (Note: Since the Gorgonzola cheese has a lot of salt in it, I would only add salt at the end.)
In a medium-sized bowl, add the cooked barley, asparagus tips, extra virgin olive oil, and Gorgonzola cheese and stir gently. Squeeze the lime juice over the salad, stir and taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve.
You can add different vegetables and like cherry tomatoes, mint, cucumbers, and green onions to the barley base to create many different variations of this dish. Enjoy this quick and light summer dish.
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