Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barley Pilaf Salad With Three Basils Pesto

First I made this.

Then I made this.

The combination of which resulted in this.
Personally, I think the first two photos are prettier but sometimes uglier is tastier and, in my humble opinion, this is one of those times.

Basil is one of my all-time favorite herbs and I've got three types growing in the greenhouse: Genova, Opal and Cinnamon. Combined with a nutty and delicious aged Italian cheese, they made a healthy, knock-out pesto and are the reason I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging. WHB began over 3 years ago when my blogger buddy Kalyn... well, read here for the delightful and serendipitous explanation. WHB is being hosted this week by dear friend and neighbor Simona of Briciole. Check out her round-up this coming Sunday or Monday. If you'd like to join in the fun, read here about how to go about it. Then send Simona your link by Sunday, 3PM Utah time. You will be part of a multi-national group of food bloggers who post their fabulous recipes each week.

Basil holds a prideful place as one of the World's Healthiest Foods . And rightfully so. Not only is fresh basil packed with vitamins, it has so many healthful properties, among them anti-inflammatory, anti-oxident and anti-bacterial, that for me to write about them all would take so much time I wouldn't get to the recipe. So click here to read about what this humble easy to grow herb can do for your health, then come on back for a recipe that's not only packed with healthful goodness, I'm proud to say that all the ingredients are organic and come from within 50 miles of my kitchen.

Christine's Barley Pilaf Salad with Three Basils Pesto
Click here to print recipe
To make the Pesto:
Using a food processor, pulse 4 cloves of peeled garlic with 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt until the garlic is finely chopped. Next, place 2 cups fresh basil plus 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts into the processor bowl and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the processor running, slowly drizzle 1/4 cup good olive oil through the feed tube until a paste forms and the pesto leaves the sides of the bowl. Stop there. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and fold in 1/3 cup finely grated Piave Vecchio cheese. Set the pesto aside until the pilaf is assembled.

To make the Pilaf:
1 cup hulless red winter barley
2 1/2 cups water
golden cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
6 small radishes of different colors, thinly sliced
1 Armenian cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup blanched corn kernels, cut from 2 cobs
1/2 fennel bulb, cut in half again and thinly sliced
The barley needs to be prepared the day before assembling the pilaf.
Put the uncooked barley into a large metal pot and cover with cold water. Give it a stir and skim off any hulls that float to the top. (Even though it's called hulless, but there will be a few strays.)
Let the barley soak for about 8 hours then rinse well.
Return barley to the rinsed pot, cover with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil on high heat.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed and the barley is just tender and chewy, about 50 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir to separate the grains and pour into a ceramic bowl or casserole dish to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
Several hours before serving, add the tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, corn and fennel to the cooked barley and toss well. Gently stir in the pesto until fully combined.

This pilaf may be served chilled or at room temperature, on the back deck or down on the beach, and would be a healthy side dish to grilled fish or stuffed chicken breasts. Bon appétit!

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. Wow Christine you are really on a roll! Beautiful salad! Basil must be my favorite even though I love rosemary and others, basil always wins me. This is a really lovely salad. Barley is something I always intend to use and forget too often.

  2. I also need to get some barley and make that. I looks heavenly!

  3. I love barley! This sounds like it would be delicious, and I don't mind the looks of it a bit either! I'm curious about that cinnamon basil; never grew that type.

  4. Here's a link to cinnamon basil, Kalyn.

    Thanks, Sher and Tanna!

  5. Another barley recipe: that's fantastic. Great idea to marry it with pesto. Whole-grain barley rocks.

  6. MMMM... you had me at "pesto"

  7. It does indeed rock, Simona. And my supply is running low!

    Thanks Deb.

    Hi Nerissa, Thank heavens I got to the basil before the aphids did. I've been doing battle with them for a week.

  8. Hi, I just found your blog yesterday. I love it. Wonderful ideas and implemtation!

  9. Thank you very much Kathleen. Welcome!


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