Dress barley and it only gets better and better. Fig balsamic vinegar really enhances the figs in the salad—it’s usually available at specialty foods stores, but any good-quality balsamic will do the trick.
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons toasted walnut oil
1 small head radicchio
5 cups mixed baby greens
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, very thinly sliced
3 ounces thinly sliced speck or prosciutto, torn into strips
12 small ripe figs, cut in half
6 ounces Bucheron cheese or other soft fresh goat cheese
3/4 cup Honey-Spice Glazed Walnuts (recipe, below)
Rinse the barley and combine it with 2 cups salted water in a heavy medium saucepan. Boil until the barley is tender and the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. (Barley can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
For the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme and salt, and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil and season with pepper.
For the salad: Remove the outer leaves of the radicchio and combine them with the salad greens in a large bowl. Finely chop the remaining radicchio (you should have about 1/2 cup). In a medium bowl, mix the barley, fennel, and chopped radicchio with 1/4 cup of the dressing. Season the barley mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
Add enough of the dressing to the salad greens and radicchio to season to taste and toss to coat. Scatter the speck or prosciutto over the greens and top with the barley mixture. Garnish with the figs, cheese and walnuts and serve.
Honey-Spice Glazed Walnuts
Makes 2 cups
A hint of honey as well as pepper and allspice make these a wonderful addition to salads.
1/4 cup (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups walnut halves and pieces
Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Bring the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons water, honey, salt, allspice and pepper to a boil in a heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and stir with a silicone spatula until they are lightly toasted and the syrup mixture begins to darken and caramelize, about 3 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to the prepared sheet pan, separating walnuts with a fork. Let the walnuts cool completely.
(Walnuts can be prepared up to 1 week ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature.)
Pack up for work: Place barley on the bottom of your to-go bowl (a 1 ½ quart lidded bowl for ample tossing room) and dress. On top, place, greens, figs, cheese, and speck or prosciutto. Nuts go in a baggy of their own. Ready to eat? Scatter nuts over all, dig down to barley and toss all ingredients.