Cooking for Tu BiShvat is like being on an episode of “Chopped” with a mystery box of ingredients that stays the same year after year. If you follow tradition, you’re supposed to eat something from all of the seven species of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. But unlike an episode of the aforementioned cooking competition, you don’t have to get all of these ingredients onto the same plate. I’ve picked a few that go together especially well and made an easy but elegant salad.
This dish can be made in advance and served at room temperature. Rinsing the barley after it’s cooked will rid it of excess starch, leaving more distinct pieces instead of a creamy, risotto-like texture. Don’t worry about running out to buy orange juice; segment the orange over a bowl so it catches the juice, then squeeze the spent orange of its remaining juice. If you need more citrus after that, you can use fresh lemon juice.
Dressed-Up Barley Salad
Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice (see preceding paragraph)
- ¾ cup mint, chopped
- 1 orange, peeled, segmented and cut into ½-inch pieces, plus juice, if needed
- ¾ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- ¾ cup snap peas, cut thinly on bias
- ¾ cup crumbled goat cheese
- Bring water to boil. Add barley and salt and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until barley is soft and no long toothsome, about 35 minutes. Drain barley in fine-mesh strainer and rinse to remove excess starch. Transfer barley to large mixing bowl.
- In small bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Pour over barley and allow barley to cool for 20 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Add salt, pepper and extra citrus (lemon or orange juice) to taste.