After the feast that was Christmas, simple meals are on the menu for us now. Given the hot weather we've been having, salads are just the ticket. While there's always a place on my table for a basic little green salad, I also like salads with some more interesting ingredients, or those that could double as a light meal with some bread or grilled fish or chicken on the side.
Fortunately, the December 2009 issue of Gourmet Traveller, which is the magazine that Suzie from Munch+Nibble and I are focusing on in our We Made It challenge this month (where we select a current food magazine and try to cook as much as we can from that one issue) has come to my rescue, with a whole feature, "Dressed for Success", on salads.
From the delicious spread available, I chose to make the carrot and barley salad with dates and raisins. The beauty of this salad is that most of the ingredients are readily to hand (or easily obtainable, although it's always nice to be able to throw something together without having to make a special trip to the shops). As well as being an interesting mix of sweet and savoury, this salad is a cinch to put together and can be served as either a light meal or a side dish. It would also be a good addition to a salad buffet.
Although the recipe specifies that the coriander and cumin seeds should be dry-roasted and then pounded in a mortar and pestle, I took the lazy option and just used ground spices for this salad. Although the flavour is not as intense, it did cut down on cooking tasks and time.
Carrot and barley salad with dates and raisins
Recipe from Gourmet Traveller, December 2009
300gm pearl barley
1 tsp each coriander and cumin seeds, dry-roasted and coarsely pounded in a mortar and pestle
3 carrots, coarsely grated
40gm pine nuts, toasted
40gm golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes, drained
3 dates, pitted, cut into slivers
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 bunch coriander, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
Cook barley in boiling salted water until tender (20-30 minutes). Drain, transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine spices with remaining ingredients in a bowl, toss to combine. Add barley, season to taste, toss to combine, serve.