The Good News: This salad is incredibly satisfying, thanks to the fiber-rich barley Lee Anne Wong tosses with spinach and mushrooms. Crumbled firm tofu in the sherry vinegar dressing adds extra protein.
1 cup pearl barley (7 1/2 ounces)
3 cups chicken stock
4 thyme sprigs
2 garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered (4 cups)
Freshly ground pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
7 ounces baby spinach (8 cups)
1/4 cup basil leaves, torn
3 tablespoons chopped mint
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
7 ounces firm tofu, drained and crumbled
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, stock, thyme and half of the garlic. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the barley is tender, 25 minutes. Discard the thyme. Drain the barley and transfer to a large bowl; cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 minutes longer. Scrape the mushrooms into the barley and toss. Add the spinach, basil and mint, but do not stir.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the remaining garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until heated through. Stir in the tofu and season with salt and pepper. Scrape the dressing over the salad and toss. Serve warm.
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Has potential. I thought the flavor would be more intense. Perhaps upping the amount of dressing and decreasing the amount of water in the barley would help. I plan on making it again but experimenting with those ideas a bit. (I did leave out the mint - maybe that was some of the problem.)