Today was pretty hot outside. It was one of those days when the air conditioning in the car wouldn't even get cool. I don't know about you, but on days like this, I'm not too keen on cooking. I especially don't want to use the oven!
Because of the heat, and the fact that we had a late lunch, I wanted something light for dinner. I also had some barley that had been sitting around for awhile and I really wanted to do something different with it. I had only ever used it in soup before and I knew there were so many other things to do with the cute, little grain that I wanted to explore some different culinary options.
I looked around to see what I had and came up with a healthy and good for you barley salad. It was light and airy and didn't leave an 'after dinner' heavy feeling. Since it's such a light dish, it can also be served as a great side to some grilled chicken or burgers.
Summer Barley Salad
1 cup uncooked barley
2 small zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 c sliced carrots
1/4 c vidalia onion, sliced into thin rings
1/4 c red onion, sliced into thin rings
3 slices bacon
1/4 c olive oil
1 TB lemon juice
2 TB cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1. Mix vinaigrette ingredients together and mix with zucchini, carrot and onions. Set aside (no need to refrigerate) for about an hour to marinate, stirring occasionally.
2. After an hour, boil 2 cups of water and mix in the barley. Cover, simmer for 12 minutes and then remove from heat to sit for five minutes.
3. While barley is cooking, make the bacon. Dice the bacon and cook in a non-stick pan for about 7-10 minutes over medium-low heat until it's slightly crisp. (Cooking over a lower heat will make more of the bacon fat render out). Drain completely over paper towel to soak up excess grease.
4. When barley has finished the cooking process, transfer it to a bowl. Drain it if necessary.
5. Allow the barley to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring a few times.
6. Remove the vegetables from the marinade with a slotted spoon (to keep the dish light prevent it from getting soggy) and mix them into the barley.
7. Sprinkle the bacon on top and serve!
This dish is best served at room temperature to allow all the flavors to mix together.