Fig, Fennel, and Barley Salad

  • Yield servings

This salad is pure fall bliss when figs are ripe and abundant. Speck is similar to prosciutto, but it is lightly smoked.

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Ingredients

1/2 cup (firmly packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup walnut halves and pieces
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 clove garlic, 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

Instructions

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Bring the brown sugar, 1 tablespoons water, the 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 them 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.)

Rinse the barley and combine it with 2 cups water in a heavy medium saucepan. Season the water generously with salt and 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 head 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 over the greens and top with the barley mixture. Garnish with the figs, cheese, and walnuts and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Salad for Dinner by Jeanne Kelley, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.

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