Monday, June 30, 2014

Barley salad with grilled zucchini, sugar snap peas and feta cheese

This salad spells summer on a plate. Fresh sugar snap peas and lightly grilled zucchini with a wonderfully tangy, salty, spicy marinated feta cheese combined with chewy bits of pearl barley is very refreshing and satisfying on a hot summer day. If I had fresh mint leaves, I would have added them to the salad - I think it would have worked well. The great thing about barley is that it is very versatile - you can serve it warm or at room temperature. Perfect salad for making ahead and entertaining.

Barley salad with grilled zucchini, sugar snap peas and feta cheese
1/2 cup pearl barley {I used the quick cooking Trader Joes variety}
1 cup Greek feta cheese
1 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4th inch disks
1 cup sugar snap peas
Olive oil for grilling
Kosher salt

Marinade for Feta cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. The feta cheese needs to be marinated for at least 2 hours. Hence, this should be done ahead. Cut the feta into 1/2 inch cubes and lightly toss with the 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, dried oregano and chili flakes. Cover and keep refrigerated till serving.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the sugar snap peas for 1 to 2 minutes depending on the size. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in an ice water bath to stop cooking and retain the crunch. Now add the pearl barley and cook for 12 minutes. Drain and keep in the serving bowl. Drain the sugar snap peas and add to the cooked barley.
  3. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Toss the sliced zucchini with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. When the grill is hot, place the zucchini slices on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side. The zucchini should have nice grill marks, but not become mushy. Remove with tongs onto a cutting board and cut each slice into quarters. Mix with the barley and blanched sugar snap peas. 
  4. If serving warm, toss with the marinated feta cheese along with the oil used for marination. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. This salad can also be served at room temperature.
Serves 3
Note: Here is a little primer on different kinds of feta cheese. I like Israeli feta very much but for this recipe Greek feta works best, thanks to its bold flavor.

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