I have been making this salad all summer, and my obsession with is still growing. It’s incredibly fresh-tasting, perfect for feeding a crowd, and just unusual enough to impress. I used to make it fairly often years ago, but somehow I’d forgotten about it — until I started going through the Ottolenghi cookbook (a gift from my Guinea Pig). Old Yotam is a big fan of fresh coriander, and seeing his creations jogged my memory.
Not only is this salad stupidly simple (and I’m all about that), it’s also wondrously versatile. You could add pretty much anything you like — olives, avocado, salad leaves, croutons, red onion, roasted vegetables, chunks of grilled meat or tofu — and it goes brilliantly with seared tuna steaks or roast leg of lamb. Oooh my mouth is watering.
Pearl barley salad
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter
125ml pearl barley, rinsed
1 large handful each fresh coriander, basil and mint leaves, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of one lemon
About 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
½ English cucumber, chopped into small cubes (roughly 5mm)
2 medium or one large tomatoes, chopped into small cubes (roughly 5mm)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Add the barley to a saucepan filled with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, or until tender. Drain in a sieve, then spread the barley out on a tray to cool and dry out a little.
2. In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice, and mix until the salt has dissolved.
3. In a large bowl, combine the barley with the cucumber, tomato, herbs, garlic and dressing, and mix well to combine.
4. Set aside for 20 minutes to an hour to give the flavours a little time to develop, then serve.