19 Aug Black Bean, Corn & Barley Salad
So, Eric Idle came to dinner and was seated beside me. We were going to entertain the other guests with a ripping rendition of The Dead Parrot skit. Only I was so busy thinking up clever tweets I forgot my lines. So I went upstairs to get my iPad, which had the script on it. Even though I found my iPad right away — in the linen closet, of course — when I returned to the dining room, all my guests had left because a knife-wielding maniac was wandering about the house. He was upset his wife had left him and ended up sobbing against my refrigerator while I patted him on the back in as comforting a manner as you can when faced with a knife-wielding maniac and the hard, sorry truth you’ll never do a Monty Python skit with an original cast member. Ever.
And that was one of the less eventful dreams I’ve had of late. Comedy, drama, food, all rolled into one action-packed cycle of REM sleep.
Upon waking I told this dream to my husband in hopes of some sympathy. His take — Eric Idle left in a huff, not fear, because he wasn’t in the Dead Parrot skit. How insensitive of me. The next time I’m honoured with Mr. Idle’s company I’ll suggest we do Nudge Nudge Wink Wink.
The reason for all my crazy dreams? The sneak-peek book launch is this Sunday and the book hits the stores in a week. By day I’m busy but calm. At night? My subconscious begs to differ. To put it in perspective, the last time I had a loopy dream cycle like this, I was getting married.
So here is a dish as colourful as my dreams. Black Bean, Corn & Barley Salad. In this recipe, spicy Mexican flavours meet accommodating Canadian grains and legumes. You can say I dreamed it up in a desperate attempt to make room in my refrigerator for all the baked goods I’ll be serving on Sunday. And to save the yellow and red tomatoes from mouldering in the garden. No parrots were hurt in the making of this dish. My sanity? It’s hiding in the linen closet until this whole book launch thing blows over.
- 2 tablespoon oil (divided)
- ½ cup pot or pearl barley
- 1½ cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
- 1 Vidalia onion, minced
- 1 jalepeno pepper, minced
- 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen and thawed
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 1 cup tomatoes, diced (yellow and/or red)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup oil
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- generous grinding of black pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan and cook the barley over medium-high heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer then cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the barley is tender. Place the cooked barley in a large bowl and let cool.
- In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until it becomes tender, about 5 minutes. Add the jalepeno pepper and cook 1 minute. Add the corn and bean and cook until the corn becomes golden, about 5 minutes. Add this to the barley. Toss and let cool.
- Place the oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a small, lidded jar. Shake to combine. If you don’t have a jar, use a bowl and whisk briskly with a fork.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cilantro to the barley mixture. Drizzle with dressing and toss. Serve immediately.