A wholesome vegetarian salad with fresh flavours and a clean, pleasing taste to the palate. I came up with this salad as a last-minute accompaniment to an evening of wine and short-eats (hor d’oeuvres if you may!) at our place with our neighbours. I did not have the time or energy to go to the nearby store to pick up stuff, so I just used whatever I had in my pantry and fridge at the time. A mellow mix and match of wholesome grains, such as nutritious barley, fresh herbs and greens with flavours of caramelised onions, marinated artichokes and a simple olive oil dressing. I used Israeli couscous, which is basically pasta in the shape of tiny balls, it is not that fine as the regular semolina couscous. I picked up whichever herbs I had lying around in my fridge, in this case basil, and Italian parsley. It was all about some chopping, a wee bit of frying, a pot of boiling water and assembling it all as it came together as a delicious and versatile salad, simply perfect for the evening.
Barley – 1 cup
Water, for cooking the grains and couscous. One could even use stock for additional flavour.
Sliced onions – 1 cup
Balsamic vinegar – 1 tsp.
Clarified butter or ghee – 1 tsp.
Marinated artichokes – 1 cup. Available in jars in any grocery store
A handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley
5-6 large fresh basil leaves, julienned
A mix of fresh baby greens, like arugula, spinach, romaine and frisée, say about 2 large handfuls
Olive oil – 1 tsp.
Salt and black pepper, to taste
For the vinaigrette :
Extra virgin olive oil – 1/4 cup
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp.
Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 tsp.
Madras curry powder – 1/2 tsp.
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
The first step is to cook the barley and couscous. For the barley, combine the barley and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Drain any excess water. Fluff with a fork and season with salt. I basically followed the package directions. When cool, transfer to a big salad bowl.
For the couscous, heat a teaspoon of olive oil, in a pan. Add the couscous and sauté till lightly brown, say 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes, till all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and add it to the couscous, when cool.
In a small fry pan, heat the ghee. Add the sliced onions. Add balsamic vinegar, which brings out the sweetness in the onions. Saute over low heat for 10-12 minutes, just as the onions are a nice light to golden brown. Add it to the couscous and barley along with all the other fresh herbs and artichokes. Do not add the baby greens at this stage.
Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. This salad can be served chilled or at room temperature. Before serving it, add the baby greens. Add the vinaigrette and toss well. And it is ready to be devoured! 🙂