Isn’t that a pretty plate of leftover veggie sides? On Sunday night, Matt and I finally hosted a game night. After months of procrastination and laziness, we invited a dozen friends over for dinner and games and we’ve been eating the remnants of the ridiculously large meal ever since. I would love to give you the recipe for the beautiful green salad at the bottom of the plate. It was the clear star, but sadly the recipe resides solely in my friend’s head. And even if she committed the recipe to paper, it wouldn’t do you any good because step one takes place two months earlier and requires that you turn your concrete parking pad into an urban farm complete with hand pollinated corn.
There’s something about serving food that comes directly from someone’s backyard that’s incredibly rewarding. I remember one evening in Maine when my dad had our farmer friends over for dinner and he served them a meal made almost entirely of produce from their farm. He was so excited about serving this meal that he had mom print out fancy menu cards, highlighting all the fresh vegetables with clever and alliterative restauranty phrases like “First Farm fetal beets.” I think he saved a copy of that menu for years afterward.
I felt the same way on Sunday. I wanted to post a little plaque above the salad: “She grew all of this stuff and picked it this morning and now we get to eat it!” But I settled for hovering over everyone and reminding them of that fact while they ate. “Isn’t this the best salad ever? All the veggies are from her garden!” But like I said, I’m not sharing the secret to growing a garden on a concrete postage stamp of a yard, nor am I sharing the recipe for the salad that you can create with your urban farm’s bounty. Instead I give to you a salad I made with vegetables, grain, and cheese sourced entirely from the conventional section of my local Harris Teeter. So, if you – like me – have a black thumb, I promise this recipe makes even the most ho-hum ingredients that have been sitting in the back of your fridge for two days too long taste pretty darn good. Of course, if you have a patch of scallions and a lemon tree growing in your backyard, even better.
Parsley and Barley Salad from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi
1/2 cup pearl barley
5 oz feta, broken into pieces
6 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 tsp za’atar
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped green onion
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/3 cup cashews toasted and crushed
1 green pepper chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper
Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil, then add barley. Boil for about 30min, until barley is tender but still chewy. Drain and reserve in a large bowl.
While barley is cooking, mix together 2 Tbsp olive oil, za’atar, coriander and cumin. Pour over broken feta pieces and gently mix together to marinate.
To the barley, add parsley, green onion, garlic, cashews, green pepper, lemon juice and salt/pepper. Divide among four plates and top with the marinated feta.