Most of us think of barley as a winter grain, but it’s worth re-thinking this assumption.
When writing Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen in the early '90s, I developed a recipe for a barley salad that has remained a favorite, and I often find myself making it during the summer.
Although you can make the salad with any whole grain, there's something about barley's particular silken chewiness that makes it a particularly appealing choice.
And you needn't stop at the readily available pearl barley—which has been processed to rub off some of the health-promoting bran layer. There are various whole grain barleys now available called "naked" or "hull-less" barleys because their inedible hulls fall off during processing, obviating the need for any pearling. Varieties of hull-less barley include Bronze Nugget, Golden Waxy, and the gorgeous, purplish hued black barley.
As with any whole grain, store uncooked barley in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the oil-rich germ from turning rancid. Cooked barley also freezes well, so make extra and store it for a second salad down the road.
In a large serving bowl or storage container, combine the barley, carrots, dill, sunflower seeds, and currants.
Dribble on the olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste. Toss until the ingredients are thoroughly coated with the dressing.
Recipe copyright, Lorna Sass, 2008