Recipes for Summer

Pearl Barley & Sweet Pea Salad

Photo: Edible Communities

Edible Communities regularly puts out recipes that are so seasonal they are, for the most part, the very definition of Sattvic. When I saw this one I had to share it, with Ayurvedic modifications to make it even more Sattvic – meaning even more balancing, nourishing and delightful for you.

The modifications are this: Food writer Molly Watson made her grain and pea salad with pearl couscous. If you are Pitta with a strong digestive fire, that may be divine. But since it is Spring, when lighter grains are called for, I replaced the pearled couscous with pearled barley.

Watson also uses a chicken stock, but when vegetable stock is so readily available and so good, why not “be kind”? She uses olive oil for cooking; Ayurveda uses ghee. She tosses in raw shallots, I suggest you cook them with the barley. Finally, in her original recipe feta is offered as an optional topping, but cheese with legumes (peas) is not advised in Ayurveda as the combination can make a right mess in the gut.

So with those modifications I hope you enjoy this beautiful spring salad – at lunch, of course, when digestion is strongest and heavier foods can be heavenly. 😘

Photo: Edible Communities

Serves 6-8

Recipe Ayurvedically adapted from Molly Watson’s Pearl Couscous Sweet Pea Salad posted at Edible Communities

1 tablespoon ghee
2 cups pearl barley
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or salted water
5-inch piece of lemongrass
1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon pink salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups shelled fresh green peas
1 bunch dill
6 sprigs fresh mint
6 ounces firm tofu, optional

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon ghee over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and barley. Cook, stirring, until the barley starts to toast with a few of the pieces starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the or salted water, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low.

Cook, undisturbed, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover, and fluff to break it up a bit.  Transfer it to a large bowl or sheet pan to cool until no longer steaming, about 5 minutes.

While the barley cooks, make the dressing: Trim and mince the lemongrass. This is a tough, fibrous plant, so you need to pound or smash it first (try a meat pounder) and then mince it as finely as possible to get the flavor of it without any tough pieces in the final salad. Put it in a salad bowl.

Zest the lemon into the bowl, using a microplane if you have one or a fine grater or zester. Be sure to only grate off the bright yellow zest and leave the bitter white pith behind. Cut the lemon in half and juice it into the bowl.
Add salt and pepper, then stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

When the barley is cooled off, add it to the dressing and toss to coat.
You can add the peas raw, or quickly cook them in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, drain, and cool off as quickly as possible by rinsing under cold water. Pat dry and add to the salad.

Finely chop the dill and mint leaves and toss them with the salad (you can reserve a few leaves to garnish the salad with, if you like). Serve slightly warm, with crumbled tofu on top, if you like.

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