More on Grains, the Moroccan Way…

I’m a little reluctant to post this, because it’s complicated, but I will because it is so darned good! 

Plus, on my current path of including more grains and legumes in my summer menu planning this one really meets my criteria. 
Granted, in the evening a salad entrée typically doesn’t cut it for me―I’m hungry for something more substantial.  Holy ras el hanout!  This Moroccan creation has so much going on, and is so filling, it’s easy to forget it’s ‘just a salad’.   However, it requires a bit of forethought since there are several working parts:  a simple seasonal Spinach-Strawberry Salad; the centerpiece, an utterly amazing Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad; and an easy Orange Mustard Dressing, which pulls it all together.   
Since there’s usually a back story to my cooking, I must digress here.  The inspiration for this fabulous meal comes circuitously by way of Elise at Simply Recipes where she features a version of the Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad by her friend, Hank Shaw at Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook. 
 I can’t say enough about either of these sites.  Suffice to say, I follow them regularly and concur with their food philosophies and their support of sustainable practices.  In fact, Hank Shaw has a new cookbook out based on his blog.  It is a fascinating resource for anyone captivated by the idea of consuming more of nature’s bounty and the romance of ‘finding the forgotten feast’.
So if you are adventurous and ready for new dimensions in food, may I suggest this provocative, hearty, and stylish salad.  
Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad
Source:  per SimplyRecipes, Elise, originates with Hank Shaw, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.
Ingredients:
·         1 ½ cups barley
·         1 ½ cups chicken or veggie broth
·         1 ½ cups water
·         1 tsp salt
·         olive oil
·         1 – 15 oz. can chickpeas ( garbanzo beans) rinsed, drained
·         ½ cup hazelnuts or pistachios
·         2/3 cup dried apricots, or other dried fruit
·         ½ cup parsley, chopped
·         2-3 green onion, chopped
·         1 lemon, zest and juice
·         1 Tbsp ras el hanout spice mix (follows)
·         salt to taste
Elise’s Ras El Hanout Spice Mix
·         1 tsp black pepper
·         1 tsp cardamom
·         ½ tsp turmeric
·         ¼ tsp each: cayenne, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon
Orange juice to moisten, if necessary. 
Directions: 
Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in large pot, over medium high heat.  Add the barley and toast 3-4 minutes, stirring often.  Add the broth, water and 1 tsp salt.  Bring to simmer and cook until the barley is tender, 30-60 minutes. 
Strain the barley and run cold water over it to cool quickly.  Drizzle lightly with additional tsp or more olive oil to coat and toss with 1/3 to 1/2 of the ras el hanout spice.
In a large bowl add the chickpeas, nuts, apricots, green onions, and parsley, ½ of the remaining ras el hanout and mix well.  Add the lemon zest and juice and mix again.  Add the barley and gently combine.    Taste, add salt and additional spice blend if desired. 
Let the salad marinate for an hour or longer.  If the barley has absorbed all the oil, drizzle a little more oil or some orange juice over the salad to moisten.  Serves 6 to 8.
Delicious as a centerpiece with Spinach Strawberry Salad with Orange Mustard Dressing.
Spinach Strawberry Salad
·         8 cups spinach, cleaned and stemmed
·         ½ basket fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
·         Orange-Mustard Dressing (follows)
·         2 cups Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad (see)
·         ½ cup toasted hazelnut
Toss the spinach with a light coating of dressing and plate.  Place the strawberries around the edge of the spinach.  Add approx ½ cup Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad in center of each salad.  Sprinkle with additional hazelnuts, if desired.  Serves 4
Orange Mustard Dressing
This is a little obscure because of the uniqueness of Olive Grand’s Blood Orange Olive Oil, but I offer it here because it is so incredibly delicious.   This drop-dead fresh olive oil is a local find from Eugene’s own purveyors of artisan products.    Check them out at Olivegrand.com.
·         1 tsp Thai Chile Garlic sauce
·         1 Tbsp Deli Mustard, whole grained
·         1 Tbsp Gulden’s spicy brown mustard
·         1 tsp sherry vinegar, or to taste
·         2 tsp blood orange olive oil or 1 tbsp flavored olive oil (see note below)
Combine the garlic sauce and the mustards; add the vinegar, whisk in the olive oil and adjust flavors as needed. 
Note:  If the blood orange olive oil is not available, substitute 1 Tbsp good quality EVOO, plus a tsp of grated orange zest and approximately 1 Tbsp orange juice.    Serves 4
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