Saturday, August 18, 2012

Barley, Celery Root and Mushroom Salad

I was born when Harry Truman was POTUS. Dinners were old school back then. When "Give 'Em Hell Harry" sat down for dinner each night in the White House, his dinner always had three distinct parts. Meat. Vegetable. Starch. Being a product of that era, that's a formula I bought into.

But if you visit some of the trendiest and most popular restaurants these days, they have a whole new spin on that formula. The protein is still there, but the side dish is typically a fusion of vegetables and starch. But the "starch" these days is a highly nutritious and healthy whole grain of some sorts.

It's taken me a bit to catch on, but catch on I have. A couple of fine examples are the quinoa based salads I've posted in the last several months: Quinoa, Red Pepper and Cucumber Salad ( and Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Black Olives (

The recipe I am going to share with you today is by Melissa Clark. I cut it out of The New York Times last spring and just got around to it now. This is an intensely flavored dish. It rates high on the umami chart thanks to toasted barley and roasted mushrooms. And it meets our criteria of a fusion whole grain/vegetable/fungi dish that is very healthy and good for you.

Because of the intense flavors, it needs strong companion on the protein side. I would recommend  serving this incredible salad with slices of a pan-seared or grilled New York Strip steak. Please note that if you toast the barley in advance, the time needed to prepare the salad is less than an hour (and most of that time is waiting for stuff to boil or roast). The recipe serves four as a side dish.

1 cup pearl barley
1 large celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 pound mixed mushrooms, like cremini, oyster and hedgehog, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped celery leaves
1/3 cup celery stalk, finely diced
3/4 cup parsley leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spread the barley grains on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and golden, 20 minutes. Then set aside.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 400º. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the celery root with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. On a separate baking sheet, toss the mushrooms with 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast both, tossing occasionally, until golden and tender, 15 to 20 minutes for the mushrooms, and 30 to 40 minutes for the celery root. Transfer to a large bowl. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 10 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Add the barley and simmer until tender, 45 to 50 minutes; drain. Add to the mushrooms and celery root. 
  4.  In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, scallions, celery leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Toss the vinaigrette and diced celery stalk into the salad. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup parsley leaves and add to the salad. Toss in the remaining whole leaves, tearing larger leaves into smaller pieces. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah

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