Heirloom Lettuce Cups with Barley Salad

Serves

Whole-grain salads are incredibly good for you...and this combination of pearled barley, apples, cranberries and walnuts is every bit as delicious as it is nutritious. It's not hard to make, either; it takes just 30 minutes to cook the barley, and the salad can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (don't add the walnuts until serving time, though, or they'll get soggy).

Farro, an heirloom wheat, is a great substitute for the barley (and cooks in the same amount of time), so experiment with various grains, herbs, and fruits to find your favorites. We like to serve this salad in lettuce cups for a fun and pretty presentation. This recipe is perfect picnic fare and makes a nice accompaniment to roast chicken or barbecued ribs.


Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups pearled barley or farro
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon dried tarragon or thyme
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
3/4 cup Earthbound Farm Organic Dried Cranberries
1 large tart apple, such as Fuji or Honey Crisp (preferably organic) (left unpeeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice, about 2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons tarragon or white wine vinegar
  Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
7 ounces Earthbound Farm Organic Heirloom Lettuce Leaves (washed and dried, about 18-20 leaves total)


Directions

Place the olive oil in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add the pearled barley and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are hot and begin to smell toasty, about 5 minutes. Stir in the shallots, tarragon and salt, and cook an additional 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the water to the mixture, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the barley is tender and the water is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, and fluff the barley with a fork. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then transfer the grains to a large bowl.

Add the cranberries and stir to combine. The residual heat from the barley will plump the cranberries nicely.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: place the oils and vinegar in a small glass jar, then add salt and pepper to taste. Seal the jar tightly and shake vigorously to combine. Let the vinaigrette sit at room temperature until serving time. The dressing can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks; be sure to let it return to room temperature before serving.

Just before serving time, add the apples, parsley and walnuts to the barley. Pour in the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired. The salad can be refrigerated for up to 3 hours before serving, or it can be served at room temperature.

To serve, choose the largest leaves possible and arrange them on a flat platter. Spoon some of the salad onto each leaf, creating a neat mound. Enjoy!

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