I have an affliction of sorts; no matter how fantastic, transcendent a recipe has been or how much I’ve sung it’s praises from the high mountaintops, I almost never make it a second time. I thought I could blame this website, always pushing me forward and urging me to try new! different! shiny! things, but who am I kidding? I’ve always been this way. Though I always say I’m just looking for tried-and-true recipes to laminate, frame, and keep forever, those that will never fail you or me so that I can stop looking, it’s not true. I’m still looking. I’ll always be looking.
There are exceptions. In one week, I made the Black Bean Confetti Salad twice, shocking myself as much as my dining partner. There have been two batches of Russian Black Bread because a week without it is a week I don’t want any part of. As summer comes ’round again, I’ll be certain to make a new batch of barbeque sauce and the strawberry lemon sorbet so good, you’ll eat none other again. But for the most part, if I’ve cooked something that you’ve liked, you best stuff yourself good and well with it because you’ll probably never see it again.
Poor Alex, right? In recent months, he’s politely requested some repeat meals, from those feta and couscous stuffed peppers, that acorn squash with chile-lime vinaigrette and wild mushroom pirogis, and been denied each time. “But I’ve made that already! I want something new!” Sometimes, fearful of sounding like a broken record, I shift my answer, like when he requested the eggplant, mint and barley salad on Monday. “It seems like more of a cold weather dish!” But not wanting to feel like too much of a green meanie, I set out to find a spring version of it, and ended up making an adapted version of this old Bon Appetit recipe.
Actually, I adapted it a ton. First of all, whole beans in a spoke pattern? Scattered lettuce? I confess I don’t have a lot of patience for fusspot arrangements. I don’t care if it looks pretty, if it doesn’t actually add to the flavor of the dish, I can’t be arsed with any of it. Second, I never thought I’d say this, but it had way too much arugula in it, so I ended up only using half. But otherwise, I made the salad somewhat as directed and we liked it. A lot. I mean, it’s really good, a great big bowl of spring flavors, especially alongside the biggest artichokes I’ve ever seen. But it is no minted eggplant barley salad, and it’s not like he hadn’t asked nicely.
So if I bump recipes up from the archives here and there over the next couple months, it’s not because I’m not cooking much these days, it’s because I letting my hard work pay off, and getting to eat again what was once phenomenal. In fact, I’m thinking some moules with baked pommes frites are immediately in order. I’m sure you agree.
Barley and Corn Salad with Arugula and Haricot Vert
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 1998
Seving size: The original recipe said it served six, but suspecting it would make much, much more, I halved it, leaving an amount I think would easily serve four people.
1/3 cup pearl barley
1/2 pound haricot vert (slim green beans) trimmed and cut into 2″ segments
1 large ear corn
1 large bunch of arugula (about 4 ounces total)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled
Cook barley in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain; cool. Transfer to large bowl.
Cook haricot vert in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Don’t drain water. Transfer beans to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. Transfer to bowl with barley. Add corn to boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then also plunge in ice water. Dry and cut kernels from cob, then add to salad bowl. Coarsely chop washed and dried arugula; add to bowl with barley mixture.
Whisk olive oil, vinegar, shallots, thyme and Dijon mustard in small bowl to blend. Pour enough dressing over barley mixture to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve alongside any remaining dressing.