Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Barley and Pomegranate Salad

We occasionally try recipes for the blog that I can't decide if I like.  They are interesting.  And I enjoy eating them because they interest me, but I just can't figure out if I actually like them or not.  This recipe... intrigued me.  It had a really interesting combination of flavors and textures - a healthy dose of acidity from the sherry vinegar, the grassy flavor of the celery, the sweetness of the pomegranates, the floral warmth of the allspice and the flavor of the herbs.  It was a very strange but interesting dish.  I can't say it was my favorite thing we have ever made, but it was one that will not soon be forgotten.  Alex was a little worried about the recipe since it includes a number of ingredients (like celery, dill and parsley) that he isn't particularly enamored of.  In the end he liked the recipe, but didn't love it.  I definitely liked it more than he did.  After some debate we served the barley salad with a riff on Alex's Roast Chicken Breasts.  To stick with the Middle Eastern theme we dusted the chicken breasts with a combination of za'atar, sumac, s&p before roasting it.  At the end we added a few thinly sliced rounds of fresh lemon to the hot pan when we added the butter and then topped the cooked breasts with the roasted lemon slices.

I wonder if all of Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes will be similarly intriguing.  Thus far, I have found the three recipes that we have attempted from his cookbook to be interesting and unusual, but I have yet to be overwhelmed with how delicious they are.  I'm going to keep trying new recipes from the cookbook because thus far I have yet to be really disappointed, plus the pictures are so stunning that I can't resist them.  And I like recipes that push us outside of our comfort zone.  We are not as adept with Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients, but I really want to become more familiar with them.  And I keep saying that we are going to eat more vegetables, so a vegetarian cookbook seems like the logical place to start.  The next few recipes I have bookmarked to try are his Black Pepper Tofu (definitely not Middle Eastern, but interesting nonetheless) and maybe the Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chile.

Recipe after the jump!

Barley and Pomegranate Salad
Plenty:  Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi
By Yotam Ottolenghi

1 cup pearl barley
6 celery stalks (leaves picked and reserved), cut into small dice
1/4 cup evoo
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2/3 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp dill, chopped
3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
seeds from 2 large pomegranates

Rinse the barley with cold water, then place in a medium saucepan and cover with plenty of water (or chicken stock - we used chicken stock).  Simmer until barley is tender but still has a bite, about 30-35 minutes.

Drain the barley and transfer to a mixing bowl.  While it is still hot, add celery, evoo, vinegar, garlic, allspice, s&p.  Stir, then allow to cool completely.  Once cool, add herbs, celery leaves and pomegranate seeds and mix in.  Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking, then serve.

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