Unlike some vegans who feel compelled to go against the age-old stereotype that herbivores subsist entirely on twigs and leaves, I’m not afraid to say that I love salads. Think what you may, but in my eyes, a “salad” can be just about anything, and rarely involves lettuce when I’m in charge. Truly, how would this most basic and yet complex term be defined? Anything chilled and mixed with a dressing? Think about fruit salad- A sweet twist on the concept that everyone should be quite familiar with. And then there are bean salads, grain salads, and some bewildering “salads” from down south that involve mayo, pineapple, and bacon. They don’t always make sense, they aren’t always healthy, and I certainly don’t endorse them across the board, but it pains me to think that most people still imagine a sad bowl of limp, pale iceberg and maybe some tired old tomato wedges when I say the word “salad.”
On that note, I have come bearing salad, but not one of those obligatory, unwanted side salads that must be choked down in order to get to dessert. This salad here is comprised mainly of toothsome barley, making it a more wholesome interpretation of pasta salad, in a sense. Fresh, sweet peas take advantage of the season’s bounty, although frozen and thawed can absolutely work in a pinch. Add in a generous glug of vinegar for a pleasant acidic bite, a handful of chives, and you’re practically done. Simple almost to the point of brainlessly easy, it’s the perfect quick dish for a hot summer day, or lazy picnic any time. Just pack it up into little jars, and you’re good to go. It keeps well, both refrigerated and not, so you don’t have to worry about it spoiling while you go play outside.
Barley and Fresh Pea Salad
2 Cups Cooked Barley
1 Cup Shelled Peas, Blanched, or Frozen and Thawed
3 Ounces Vegan “Feta”
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Umeboshi Vinegar
1 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Chives
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Parsley
Salt and Pepper, to Taste
A salad like this hardly needs instructions, but here goes: Toss the cooked barley and peas in a bowl, crumble in the “feta,” drizzle in both vinegars and oil. Add the chopped herbs and toss well. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately, or cover and chill for up to three days.
Serves 4 – 6 as a Side Dish