Author Notes: I had some cooked pearl barley on hand after making some lemon barley water (a very refreshing British beverage). I decided to turn it into a salad. I combined it with the flavors of one of my favorite pizzas. The mildly chewy, slightly earthy barley became a perfect backdrop for some juicy grapes, crunchy walnuts, and herbaceous rosemary. The whole thing is bound together with mayonnaise lightened a bit with sherry vinegar and olive oil. - hardlikearmour
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
- 1 cup pearl barley
- wedge brie - 4 to 5 ounces
- 1/3 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (a fruity one if you've got options)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- bunch seedless red grapes (enough for 1 cup quartered)
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (or toasted pine nuts)
- Do ahead: Rinse barley and place in a 3 to 4 quart stock pot. Cover with 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high, then turn down to maintain a low simmer. Cook until soft but still a bit chewy, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain the barley and transfer to a storage container. Allow to cool before covering and chilling. (If desired skim the foam and strain the water into a bowl to make lemon barley water.) You should have about 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups cooked barley. (NOTE: I didn't salt the water because I wanted to drink it. If you salt the cooking water, make sure to leave out the salt in the recipe until tasting it at the end.)
- When ready to make the salad: Place the brie in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm it up a bit so it is easier to cube.
- Combine the cooked barley, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, olive oil, sherry vinegar, chives, 1 teaspoon rosemary, black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Fold and stir until everything is well combined. If it seems dry, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise.
- Quarter enough grapes (pole to pole) to measure 1 cup. Add the grapes and chopped walnuts to the barley mixture.
- Cut the rind from the brie, then cube the brie so the pieces are similar in size to the grape slivers. Add the brie to the bowl. Mix well. (The brie will start to melt a bit with stirring. I like it to get pretty incorporated into the mixture, so stir quite a bit. You may want to stir less.) Taste and add salt and rosemary as needed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with a cluster of grapes and a sprig of rosemary if desired.