We take a short break this week from the drinks and sweets of the Half Pint Hacks to look at something very important: we all ought to cook extra beans or grains to add to the stash in your freezer for your “planned leftovers.” Because I already had barley and black beans packed away in the freezer, this salad was darned near instant. There’s just nothing like healthy fast food from your own kitchen! When you cook your own rather than go for canned beans, you have the luxury of flavor and nutrients from cooking them in broth. (You’ve probably heard me on that soap box before.)
This salad was inspired by Liz over at The Lemon Bowl. I went a slightly different direction than Liz because of what was and what was not available in my garden. You can do the same. The beans and barley make a fine foundation for culinary creativity.
These flavors are best at room temperature so let your beans and barley warm up a bit before putting the salad together. When serving the salad as a leftover, remove it from the refrigerator about an hour before serving. If you are brown bagging it, your salad should be just about the right temperature by noon.
Black Bean and Barley Salad Ingredients
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups cooked barley
1 dozen radishes
1/2 red onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges and cilantro leaves for garnish
Black Bean and Barley Salad Steps
Empty the beans and barley into a large mixing bowl.
Wash and thinly slice the radishes. If the radishes are over-sized, cut them in half before slicing.
Wash and slice the cucumber. If the cucumber is not from your garden, peel it first. Unfortunately, there is no telling what has been sprayed on the outsides of commercially grown cucumbers.
Add the radishes, cucumber and red onion to the bean and barley mix.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small heavy skillet. When the oil has heated, add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Do not brown the garlic or it will turn bitter. If you are a garlic addict like we are, double the amount of garlic cloves. This quick sauté mellows the flavor, reducing the sharpness and heat of the fresh garlic.
Remove the skillet from the heat and scrape the garlic, pepper, and oil mixture into a cup. If you leave it in the skillet, they will continue to cook from the heat built up in the skillet. That’s too risky.
Add the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the cooked garlic mixture. Combine well and drizzle over the bean and barley mixture.
Sprinkle on the minced cilantro and gently combine all the ingredients, making certain that the vegetables, beans, and grains get coated with oil. The oil is the carrier that blends the flavors.
Taste for salt and pepper. Make adjustments. You may want more oil and/or more lemon juice. Satisfy your own palate. This is your creation!
Allow the salad to sit for 30-60 minutes before serving for the flavors to marry.