Monday, September 6, 2010

End of summer salad

Hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, baked beans, mac and cheese ... ahh, the joys of a barbecue to celebrate a 3-day weekend the fruits of our labor.

If you're like me, though, there's always a bit of anxiety when it comes to going to those celebrations. A lot of people don't eat healthy on a daily basis much less eat healthy on a holiday. It's usually an excuse to eat bigger portions of foods with bigger calorie and fat contents.

And, in the past, I was no different. I'd make two or three desserts with ridiculous amounts of white sugar and white flour. This year? Not so much. In fact, my mother-in-law asked me to bring the SALAD to last night's get together.

I was incredibly tempted to buy lettuce in a bag but, alas, I was inspired by a recipe for Summer Barley Salad over at The Kitchn. Before you wrinkle your nose, let me tell you one thing: This salad was fan-friggin-tastic. Even the people who don't care about eating healthy loved it. And the cherry on this Sunday was that it was really easy to make.

Summer Barley Salad
Adapted from The Kitchn

1 cup uncooked barley
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1.5 cups corn (I used frozen)
Handful basil leaves, chopped
Handful parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Boil 3 cups water. Add barley; cover and reduce heat to low. I let it cook for about 35 minutes when I turned off the heat and let it do the last of the cooking. Let the barley cool and add it to a big bowl. Add the chopped vegetables and herbs. Whisk together vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad and toss together. Cover and refrigerate.

I made this using half the dressing that the original recipe called for, and I am glad I did. The salad was "wet" but not drenched, and the flavor wasn't overpowering. In the future (or for leftovers), I might add extra veggies and maybe even some feta cheese. I am sure you can use whatever veggies you could pick up at a farmers market or if you have a CSA share.

And, in case you were wondering, I did make dessert. A delicious and decadent coconut cream pie ... that just happened to have less than 150 calories a slice. Add that one to your recipe box, too. You'll thank me ... or Hungry Girl.

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