Salmon and Farro Salad

Aware that I am into the World Cup in a big way, Gourmay readers across the world are asking me what we serve guests during the game. It used to be that we would serve some antipasti and, perhaps, a little pasta to whet the appetites of our guests. Sadly, after the biting incident in the Italy-Uruguay match, we have had to reconsider our menu because Luis Suarez gives new meaning to the term “al dente” when dining Italian.


Mind you, I am a refined carnivore and prefer my meat cooked rather than still on the hoof, but I can understand why some people might be attracted to someone’s shoulder if they haven’t been weaned properly as a child. In any event, we have now decided that a trio of salads would be better to keep nationalistic passions in check. Found below is a useful salmon and farro salad courtesy of Mamacita:

Poached Salmon and Farro Salad

Ingredients (Serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 1/4 lb salmon
  • 4 tsp of red wine
  • 4 to 5 sprigs of dill
  • 1/2 cup barley or farro
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 Tbs capers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs dill snipped
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil


  • Poach salmon in water with 4 tsp of red wine and 4 to sprigs of dill.  Cool and flake.
  • Cook barley or farro and then toss with 2 tsp of olive oil and let cool.
  • Combine vegetables with salmon, grain and Dijon.  Season with wine vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

A penitent Luis Suarez tells me that the salmon salad is best eaten at room temperature.

Barley and Spinach Salad with Tofu Dressing

This is a quite satisfying vegetarian diet meal that is served frequently in the May household. This basic recipe comes from the June, 2009 Food and Wine magazine.  The crumbled firm tofu in the sherry vinegar dressing adds extra protein.

Barley and Spinach Salad with Tofu Dressing


1 cup pearl barley (7 1/2 ounces)
2 cups chicken stock
2 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz cremini mushrooms quarted (makes about 4 cups)
Freshly ground pepper (tellicherry is best)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
7 oz baby spinach (8 cups)
1/4 cup basil leaves torn
3 Tbs chopped mint
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs light brown sugar
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
7 oz firm tofu, drained and crumbled


  1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, chicken stock, thyme and half of the garlic.  Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the barley is tender, 25 minutes.  Discard the thyme.  Drain the barley and transfer to a large bowl; cover and keep warm.   
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 Tbs of the oil.  Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring until lightly browned, 5 minutes.  add the shallots and cook, stirring until softened, 3 minutes longer.  Scrape the mushrooms into the barley and toss.  Add the spinach, basil and mint, but do not stir.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 Tbs of oil in the skillet.  Add the remaining garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened.  Add the vinegar, lemon juice and brown sugar and bring to a boil.  Cook until slightly thickened.  1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and cook until heated through.  Stir in the tofu and season with salt and pepper.  Scrape the sherry vinegar dressing over the salad and toss.  Serve warm.


Creamy Hot Barley with Toasted Almonds

In the interests of privacy, “Big Sister” Thérèse has decided to censor future Blog postings related to our diet.  Likening it to a bad TV reality show (are there any good ones other than Iron Chef?), she said “if you want to be on reality TV why not try dating one of Kardashian sisters?  It looks to me that they could use the diet as much as you.”   As we all know, it is not wise to cross swords with Thérèse and, therefore, reality-starved Gourmay readers will now only receive  sporadic diet updates, mostly pertaining to food.

One our favorite breakfast recipes (even when we aren’t dieting) is Creamy Hot Barley with Toasted Almonds.  This recipe comes from Dr. Phillip Tirman’s cookbook,  The Wine and Food Lover’s Diet: 28 Days of Delicious Weight Loss  which I mentioned in a previous diet blog.    The great thing about this breakfast recipe is that you can double the portions (recipe below serves 4), save the barley in a  refrigerator container and then nuke it in the microwave as needed.  Makes for a pleasant and quick breakfast. 

Penzey's CinnamonDr. Tirman uses pearl barley (rathered than hulled) and calls barley a “savvy” carb that is high in fiber and is “digested slowly causing a slow release of blood sugar.”   This is a relatively straight-forward recipe and I would only add that you should take great care in choosing the appropriate cinnamon for this dish.   There are many types of cinnamon, all with distinctive flavors.  One of our favorites is Penzeys Blend of cinnamons, which we first tried over the Christmas holidays.  Buy it online or visit a Penzey’s store in your neighborhood and sample (i.e. smell) the great varieties.   Unless you are a heavy user, buy cinnamon in small quantities since it looses its aroma rather quickly.

Creamy Hot Barley with Toasted Almonds


1 tsp of unsalted butter
1 cup of pearl barley
2 3/4 cups of water
3/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of creme fraiche
Cinnamon to taste


Melt butter in a medium-size sauce pan

Add barley and cook for 5 minutes stiring gently

Add water, allow it to come to a boil, lower heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes (do not let it dry by adding a small amount of water as necessary).  This should yield about 3 cups of barley.

Roast almonds in a small skillet.

Stir  in the creme fraiche and serve hot with toasted almonds and cinnamon on top.  Please NoteOnly stir in the creme fraiche with hot barley as needed.  If you are using the microwave, stir in the creme fraiche  after the barley is reheated.