This salad was inspired by some beautiful locally grown purple heirloom barley. Barley's nutty flavor seemed to call out for walnuts and apples. Celery root served as a nice counterpoint to the apples, and bacon always seems like a good idea. After cooking the bacon, I experimented with deep frying sage leaf fronds in the rendered fat and it proved to make a delectable crunchy garnish. If you want a more substantial dinner salad, this is also very tasty with a poached egg on top, but then what salad isn’t? —Fairmount_market
4 large salads
hulled barley (purple if you can find it)
fronds of sage leaves (divide use)
lemon (divided use)
chopped walnut pieces
medium sized celery root
firm apple, such as a honey crisp
strips of bacon
small head of lettuce or 4 big handfuls of salad greens
Soak the barley overnight. The next day, drain and add 3 cups of fresh water, 2 fronds of sage leaves and a generous amount of salt. Use a vegetable peeler to make a long strip of lemon rind and add this to the pot. Bring the water to a simmer and cook gently, partially covered, over low heat until the barley is tender but still has a lot of bite, about 90 minutes. Adjust seasoning and discard the lemon rind and sage leaves. You can cook the barley ahead and reheat it before finishing the salad.
Peel the celery root (reserve any celery leaves for your salad) and chop into about ¼ inch dice. Peel the apple and chop into about ½ inch dice.
Heat a skillet big enough to cook the bacon. When it is warm, toast the walnut pieces until they are fragrant but be sure not to burn them. Reserve.
Now cook the bacon until it is nice and crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Over medium heat, submerge the remaining 4 sage fronds, stem side up, into the hot rendered bacon fat and let them cook for a minute. Rescue them out of the vat of oil by their stems, and let them recover from their adventure on the paper towels. They will crisp up into crunchy treats.
Reserve 1 tsp of rendered bacon fat for your dressing, and pour off all but about 1 Tbsp of the fat from the pan. Over medium heat, add the diced celery root and sauté for a minute. Now add the diced apple and sauté for a minute longer. You want these to be flavored by the bacon fat but still have some crunch. Transfer the sautéed celery root and apple to a large bowl. Stir in the warm barley and the toasted walnuts. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Mix up a dressing for your lettuce by combining juice from one lemon, mustard and honey and then whisking in the reserved 1 tsp of bacon fat. Toss your lettuce leaves, and celery leaves if you have some, with the dressing and arrange on four plates. Top with a quarter of the barley mixture. Crumble a piece of bacon over each mound and top with the deep fried sage leaves. Enjoy warm.
I'm a biology professor and mother of two, and in my (limited) free time I love to cook, which is much more forgiving than laboratory science. Last year I helped start a farmers market in my neighborhood, and to promote it, I created a food blog: fairmountmarket.blogspot.com. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with recipes for local, seasonal ingredients and finding fun ways to cook with my children.