Asparagus Barley Salad
Last week we hosted a farm school here on the farm and I catered the lunches. This asparagus barley salad was just the ticket--full of texture, flavor and packed with nutrition! A little sweet, a little tangy, loaded with asparagus harvested on the farm just hours before it is my favorite spring salad.
Asparagus Barley Salad
1 c. barley
2 c. water
¼ t salt
2 c. asparagus, trimmed and cut into two inch pieces
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. frozen edamame
1 c. celery, diced
¼ - ½ c EVOO
1 large lemon
¼ t salt
3 TB Italian parsley, washed & minced
several chive blossoms, washed
1 t fresh thyme, minced
4 seedless Mandarin oranges, peeled, segmented and halved
3 TB raw pumpkin seeds
Put the pumpkin seeds in a small dry sauté pan over med. high heat. Toast the seeds until they begin to pop. Remove the pan from the heat and let the seeds cool. Set aside.
Place barley, 2 c. water and ¼ t salt in a medium saucepan over med. high heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the barley comes to the boil reduce the heat and set a timer for 10 min. Watch the barley, checking for doneness and that it does not boil dry. It will take anywhere from 10 to 20 min., depending upon how firm you want it. I like it “al dente”, not mushy, but chewy with a little bite to it. As soon as the barley is done, drain off any remaining water and put it in a large bowl to cool down. Stir in 1-2 TB of EVOO, just enough to make the barley glossy. Season it with salt and pepper to taste then cover and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
As soon as the barley has cooled you can steam the asparagus for 8 min, just until it is tender or bring a saucepan of salted water to boil, add the asparagus and cook for 4 min., again, just until it is tender. Immediately plunge the asparagus in cold water to stop the cooking and drain it. Add the asparagus to the barley.
While you are preparing the asparagus you can prep the frozen peas by placing them into a small microwavable bowl with a pinch of salt and microwave for 1 ½ - 2 minutes, until they are unfrozen but still cold. Drain and add to the barley mixture.
Bring a small saucepan of water and salt to the boil and add the edamame. Boil for 4 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Add the edamame to the barley mixture.
Add the celery to the salad and make the dressing.
Zest the entire lemon, add half of the zest to a small mixing bowl and reserve the other half in another small bowl. Squeeze the juice into the small mixing bowl, you want ¼ c. Add ¼ t salt and stir into the lemon juice to incorporate it. Add just enough EVOO to create an emulsion. (Adding an equal amount of the EVOO while whisking the juice mixture will emulsify the dressing.)
Stir the dressing into the barley mixture, mixing to incorporate the dressing. Add the parsley and thyme and season to taste. If your salad is dry add more EVOO and if you like it zestier you can add the remaining lemon zest. Add the oranges. Garnish with the chive blossoms, plucking the blossoms off the stem. Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds over the top. Serve at room temperature or chill for a couple of hours before serving.
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