Matt had been looking for some pearled barley for a recipe he wanted to make and we had a really difficult time hunting some down. When he finally brought a bag home after work one day, he discovered that the barley wasn't 'quick-cooking' (which the recipe requires). So, we were back to square one . . . but, in the meantime, with a bag of pearled barley that needed a new purpose. I decided to try to find a recipe that used barley and edamame (another recently orphaned ingredient in my kitchen), and eventually found this:
Edamame & Barley Salad
I was drawn to this recipe because it reminded me, in some ways, of the southwestern quinoa salad, the curried couscous with broccoli and feta, and garlic-toasted quinoa with vegetables dishes I've highlighted here before that we really liked. Each uses a base of some sort of grain, and they share some similar veggies.
I'd never made pearled barley before, and the recipe simply instructs you to follow the cooking directions on the bag, so I did. Unfortunately, the bag didn't say to cover the pot once you got to the 'simmering' stage. Since barley is similar to rice, quinoa, etc., I assumed I was supposed to, because you do with those grains, but I've been pretty wrong making assumptions in the kitchen before. Sooo, I let it simmer for a while, lid off. But it was clear after a little while that all that water was never going to be absorbed or evaporate in the time allotted continuing with it uncovered, so I popped the top on. Good decision.
The recipe asks you not to put salt or fat in the water with the barley (as some bags may instruct) but to add salt later when you're combining your ingredients. Again, I did as I was told, but when I make this again, I probably will add the salt to the water - maybe some lemon zest too - my reasoning being the same as for wanting to put soy sauce in the water with the quinoa the next time I make the southwestern quinoa salad - I think the flavors will infuse the dish better.
I'm much more apt to swap out ingredients (as I've encouraged doing here before) than I am to mess with method instructions in a recipe. Substituting a little onion if you're out of shallots will probably produce palatable results, but broiling something for 20 minutes instead of baking it for 20 could be disastrous. Sometimes, it's not as clear-cut as that, but the more you try out new recipes and new ingredients, the line between when it's necessary to 'follow orders' and when you can unleash your inner creative chef should become a little less fuzzy.
Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!
Other Meatless Monday posts