Basil pesto is always a favorite when served with pasta, but I find the iconic sauce to be incredibly versatile. Indeed, why stop at pasta?
Basil pesto: Think beyond pasta!
Here chewy barley is tossed with pesto to make the base for this summery salad. The delicious grains are then topped with sugar snap peas (for a snappy crunch!), and heirloom cherry tomatoes (for a bit of sweetness). The whole thing is garnished with tender baby greens.
Colorful and vibrant, this is another one-stop salad that makes for a perfect summer meal.
Food & wine pairing: Alsace, Pinot Blanc with barley and basil pesto salad
A Pinot Blanc from Alsace is superb with this salad. This luscious, full-bodied white matches the heft of the barley, while its fruity flavors and herbal notes pair perfectly with the basil pesto. Alternatively, serve an off-dry Riesling… or a light rosé made with Pinot Noir grapes.
Barley & Basil Pesto Salad with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes
active time: 45 min (includes making the pesto)
For the barley
- 2 quarts spring or filtered water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large garlic clove – skinned and left whole
- 1 cup pearled or semi-pearled barley
For the salad
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 oz (115 g) sugar snap peas (snow peas are a good substitute)
- 8 oz (225 g) assorted heirloom cherry tomatoes – cut in half lengthwise
- 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid (from the barley)
- 2/3 cup basil pesto or to taste
- 1 handful baby arugula, mizuna, mâche, young pea shoots or microgreens
- Step 1: Place the water in a medium heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt, garlic and barley. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until tender but still chewy. Drain the barley, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the garlic and let the barley cool to room temperature.
- Step 2: Place the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside. Pinch the stem ends off the sugar snap peas and pull to remove the center string. Then cut each pod in half lengthwise. (Watch video clip for exact technique. If using snow peas, leave them whole.) Place in a medium bowl and add the tomatoes. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss with your hands until well coated. Place the barley in a separate bowl. Add the reserved cooking liquid and pesto and stir until well blended. Spoon the barley mixture into a shallow serving bowl (or divide into 4 bowls, if serving individual portions). Top with the sugar snap peas and tomatoes. (There will be some vinaigrette left in the bowl – make sure to drizzle it over the vegetables!) Garnish with the baby greens and serve immediately.
- It’s important to cook the barley with plenty of water (just like you would when cooking pasta), otherwise the grains will be sticky.