Is it a salad? Is it a pilaf? That’s for you to decide. You can “choose your own adventure” and create a masterpiece, just know it’s going to be good. It all starts with barley and lentil. Throw it into a pressure cooker with some onion, broth, and spices. Twelve minutes later, presto, the base of your masterpiece.
Here’s where it gets fun. I chose to make a salad with the barley lentil mashup, and it couldn’t have been easier! I finely chopped zucchini and threw it into a bowl with some grated carrot. The warm barley-lentil slightly cooks the vegetables so they are tender-firm with a bite-this story is picking up. I tossed it with some herb vinaigrette and used it to bulk up Pan-Fried Cod with Mixed Greens Salad and subbed Roasted Vine-On Tomatoes for the fresh ones. It turned out to be a match made in culinary heaven. They met, fell in love, and couldn’t be happier. End of that story.
So, you chose the pilaf route. Now what? Keep it simple. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil on it while it’s still warm. Not enough pizzazz?
Add some sautéed vegetables: (A) how about shallots, garlic, zucchini and carrot? (B) do mushrooms excite you? Go for it. (C) caramelized onions? Oh, yeah! (D) something else? Pick one or some: asparagus, artichokes, spinach, kale, bok choy, cabbage, peas, green beans, romenesco, tomatoes, and many more.
Now, for the stir-ins: (A) try butter, cheese, maybe crème fraiche, or a combo (B) brighten it up with some lemon zest or fresh herbs: parsley, chives, basil, or rosemary (C) spice is nice: lemon pepper, red pepper flakes, sriracha- sky’s the limit! (D) or, go crazy: roasted garlic, walnuts, or a dollop of pesto (E) All the above? Slow your roll, culinary scientist. Take one adventure at a time.
Feeling all fancy-pants? Be aware that you’re entering uncharted territory. Proceed with culinary caution. I drained the liquid for the salad. Keep the liquid and you’ve got a risotto-esque thing going on. Throw in some white wine, maybe more broth, and continue cooking until it’s creamy and the consistency you want (see, you’re in control). Throw in some mixed roasted mushrooms, parsley or chives, some butter and Parmesan cheese. Voila. I’ll take that adventure any day.
The pièce de résistance: Top your masterpiece with a big hunk of stewed beef. There. Now you’re talking.