In the blink of the eye, it’s April. What? Where did the time go? I’m quite sure that it was just the other night when I was doing my usual New Year routine…falling asleep wa-aaay before midnight, and here we are, and it’s April already. I think I write this every year. And yet every year, without fail, I can’t fathom how quickly the time passes.
However, I do see the time passing…everyday as I look in the mirror! I see it in my children who are growing up so quickly that they’re not little kids anymore. Even my baby turns 11 this year; him growing up is the hardest for me to wrap my head around. I know that’s how life works but it’s still very hard to get older and watch your children growing up and getting older themselves. I think what’s even harder is when you can remember your youth like it was yesterday.
Ok, enough of this getting older business! I’m just happy that I don’t let my age define me, in my mind, I’m still 21 🙂
So, how about all this spring loveliness? I may be a winter person, but I love when spring finally makes an appearance and everything begins to turn this beautiful green. The shops begin to liven up with spring colours and flavours. I know I’m not the only one who gets excited to see mounds of ruby red rhubarb, stacks of asparagus neatly tied up in bunches, zesty purple tinged spring onions and bulbs of pungent green garlic. The vibrant citrus of winter gives away to the feathery lushness of spring. I love how Mother Nature gives us so much joy every season with a variety of fruits and vegetables and an abundance of happy colours to keep our souls and tummies nourished.
Colorado’s growing season is still a while away. But this is one time I will buy non local because I’m tired of eating winter root vegetables! I need colour, I need freshness, I need variety! The farmers markets are starting up now but are mainly stocked with seedlings and plants. It won’t be till June when we get Colorado produce, and I cannot wait! My local farm stand carries a lot of green house grown produce right now and they are finishing up their fall and winter harvest.
I didn’t realise how much I missed the green until we went to the Pacific Northwest a couple of weeks ago. It was such a difference between grey, snowy Colorado. Spring was in full force and it was really soul lifting to see the vibrant greenery and the colourful bulbs, all in full bloom. The incredibly, fragrant cherry blossoms laid out a snowy carpet under each tree and I came across a couple of heady honeysuckle bushes too and just stood there breathing in the heavy scent.
I was really excited to be visiting that part of the country and looked forward to putting my camera to good use. Yeah….spring in the Pacific Northwest…nothing but rain. Every. Single. Day. All my photos ended up being taken with my iPhone. They’re not bad but not quite the artistic works I was hoping for! I was asked to share some, so here are my excellent iPhone photos. The photos maybe blah, but the experience was wonderful. I really enjoyed my time in a beautiful part of the country.
This salad is a spring take on a winter salad I was making for many of the events at work. It ended up being quite the hit with lots of requests for the recipe. In that particular salad, I was using Farro grain tossed with roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and fresh spinach that was wilted in the heat of the warm salad. The whole salad was tossed in a sweet tart balsamic dressing and lots of fresh, citrusy herbs to liven up the heavy salad. Since winter is over, I have redone the salad with spring vegetables, this can be served warm, room temperature or cold, since these spring vegetables work well in all temperatures. I’m not a fan of raw mushrooms so I always cook mine but feel free to keep them raw if you don’t mind them that way.
It’s a great accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats and you really don’t need anything else. I roasted my harissa chicken and we had this salad along side. Since the grains and greens are all in one, a big pile of salad and some chicken is all that is needed for lunch or dinner.
Serves: 10 servings
- Barley Salad
- 8 oz/250g pearled barley
- 1 lb/500g asparagus
- ½ lb/250g sugar snap peas
- 8 oz/250g mushrooms, sliced
- Young pea shoots or other field greens
- 2 small watermelon radishes
- ¼ cup chives, chopped
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup/235ml vinaigrette
- White Balsamic Vinaigrette
- ½ cup/120ml white balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup/120ml extra Virginia olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave
- 1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
- Salt and pepper
- Start by making the balsamic vinaigrette.
- Add a ½ cup white balsamic vinegar to a medium size bowl.
- Mince or grate the garlic clove with a Microplane, and add to the vinegar.
- Add the honey and mix together until honey has dissolved.
- Add the ½ cup olive oil whisking as you add to emulsify.
- Check for salt and pepper and season to your taste.
- Put aside until the barley is ready.
- Cook the pearled barley according to package instructions.
- You want to cook the barley to the firm side and not too soft as it will be in a salad.
- While the barley is cooking, prep the vegetables.
- Bring a pit of water to boil and once it reaches boiling, add the asparagus.
- Cook the asparagus for about 5 minutes pulling them out while they are still a vibrant green and crunchy.
- Pull them out into a bowl of ice water to cool them down,
- In the same boiling water, blanch the sugar snap peas.
- Once again, cook them briefly, 3 minutes, and pull them out while still green and crunchy into a bowl of ice water.
- Once the asparagus and sugar snap peas are cool, chop them into bite size pieces if desired.
- Cut the asparagus into smaller pieces and the sugar snap peas into halves or thirds.
- Sauté the mushrooms in a hot pan with 2 teaspoons oil
- Just lightly brown them to cook out the rawness and get a smoky flavour.
- Keep aside once cooked.
- Once the barley is cooked, drain the excess water if needed and rinse under hot water to get out the starchiness.
- Toss the barley with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette.
- When ready to serve, toss the mushrooms, asparagus, sugar snap peas, pea shoots or field greens and the herbs together.
- Add the remaining vinaigrette, start with ½ cup and add as needed.
- I used all 1 cup since the barley absorbs the liquid.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm, room temperature or cold.
One of the great things about these whole grain salads is that the vegetables can easily be swapped out with the seasons. I’m envisioning heirloom tomatoes, copious amounts of mint and basil, grilled squash or even corn for a summer take.
I hope everyone is having a fabulous start to the week. I am off this week so I’m having wonderful time! I am excited to take part in BlueStar training event on Wednesday but what I’m really excited about is getting to visit Uncorked Kitchen
Uncorked Kitchen is a food kitchen in Centennial, Colorado, where events, cooking classes, couples classes, corporate events, take place. Their kitchens are outfitted by BlueStar ranges which are some of the most powerful ones in the market (open burners) I haven’t had an opportunity to play with any of these so I’m thrilled to finally get a chance. I’m also thrilled to be attending Uncorked Kitchen because it opened a few months ago and is having great success. I’ve been wanting to drag my husband to a cooking class but let’s just say, they’re a little pricey. So, on Wednesday, since it is a training class, we’ll be going for free with the other guys and girls from work. Score!