pearled barley and caramelized mushroom salad with arugula and fried sage

This hearty and filling "salad" could really serve as an entree on its own. Pearled barley has been processed to remove the outer hull and bran. It can be found in the section of the grocery store where you purchase grains and nuts in bulk. It cooks quickly and serves as an excellent base for sauces or dressing. The barley is also full of fiber and simple and clean in taste. I love the combination of mushrooms, sage, and balsamic, which marry well in this end-of-winter dish. I'd recommend serving with a red wine such as a Pinot Noir or Petite Syrah.

 

  • Chicken broth (6 cups)

  • Pearled barley (3 cups, dried)

  • Olive oil (6 tablespoons)

  • Portobello mushrooms (10-15 large strips, cut from mushroom caps)

  • Shiitake mushrooms (2 cups of strips, cut from mushroom caps)

  • White button mushrooms (2 cups, sliced)

  • Fresh arugula (2 cups)

  • Balsamic vinegar (2 teaspoons)

  • Grapeseed oil, or another clean-tasting vegetable oil (2 tablespoons)

  • Fresh sage leaves (about 15 leaves, removed from stalks)

 

  1. Warm the chicken broth on the stove in a medium sauce pan until simmering.

  2. Add the dried barley and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes, or until al dente and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

  3. Drain the barley if there is excess liquid at point of being fully cooked. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and fluff with a wooden spoon to accelerate cooling.

  4. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the stove. Add the portobello mushroom caps and saute until golden and just cooked through (not fully wilted or soggy). Remove from heat and add to the large mixing bowl with the barley to cool.

  5. Repeat the heating of another 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet. Add the shiitake mushroom cap strips. Heat until golden and cooked through. Remove from heat and also add to the mixing bowl.

  6. Finally, repeat the heating of the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the white button mushroom pieces. Heat until golden and cooked but not soggy. Add to the mixing bowl.

  7. Using the wooden spoon, mix the mushrooms and barley together to blend and release additional heat (the mixture will likely be steaming).

  8. Add the arugula and keep mixing with the spoon. Drizzle in 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. Taste and add salt if additional seasoning is required.

  9. In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Add the sage leaves and fry until just crispy. Remove to let cool on a paper towel.

  10. To serve, transfer mushroom, barley, and arugula mixture to a large serving bowl and garnish with fried sage on top. If making ahead, this salad can also be kept in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before serving; remove to let it come closer to room temperature.