I'm always looking at recipes. Whenever I come across a recipe that seems intriguing I make a mental note to myself that I will have to give it a try. Sometimes I'll print out a copy and either file it away in an accordion file full of other recipes to try or just add it to a stack of papers on my desk (kitchen table). Other recipes I have bookmarked, things like a goat cheese souffle with thyme, peanut mole enchiladas with braised greens, and a Catalan seafood stew. I'm not sure why I never get around to them. A number of them are seasonal so I'm all "I'll just save that until the summer where there are good tomatoes at the farmers' market" or whatever. And yet, some how these recipes almost never get made. Why am I like that? I really need to go back and look though all these recipes to do and just go for them. I could make a bold claim like I'm not going to make another recipe until I've made every single one I've printed out, but we all know that will never happen. Let's just be honest.
Now, this salad I actually have made before. Annie and I made it a couple years ago to go along with some sort of grilling or barbequeing that we were doing. I don't recall what exactly we made, but this salad made a mark. I've been wanting to make it again ever since. Finally this past weekend I made it happen.
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking barley
4 ears of corn, still in the husks
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 Belgian endives (about 1 lb total), trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons basil leaves sliced into a chiffonade
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the corn into the sink and fill with water. Let the corn soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Place the corn on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove form oven and when it is cool enough to handle, peel off the husks and silks and then cut the corn off the cob into a large bowl. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water with 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan. Stir in barley, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove barley from heat (when tender) and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Drain barley well in large sieve and add to corn in bowl.
Heat a cast iron grill pan over high heat for 10 minutes. Brush the cut sides of the endive with a little olive oil and then place in the grill pan, cut side down. Grill for about 5 to 8 minutes, however long it takes to get some nice dark grill marks. Remove from the pan and cut cross-wise into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Add the grilled endive to the corn and barley mixture.
Next make the vinaigrette. Pulse oil, basil, chives, vinegar, lemon or lime juice, sugar, pepper, remaining tablespoon water, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor until herbs are finely chopped.
When you are ready to serve, add the vinaigrette to the corn, barley, endive mixture, tossing gently with a silicone spatula to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and then adorn with the sliced basil leaves.
This is a perfect summer salad. I mean what feels more summery than corn and basil, except maybe tomatoes and peaches. I read somewhere once that if it grows together (as in seasonal), it goes together. Corn and basil are prime examples of that. They are just the best of friends. Their light freshness is balanced out by the grilled endive and the barley. The endive's bitterness is tempered from the grilling but nicely contrasts the corn's sweetness.
It's a great salad to make for a barbeque or a cookout, but one thing to keep in mind is basil is very sensitive. Don't add it to the warm salad or else it will turn a displeasing dark green. In fact, I'd wait until right before serving before adding the vinaigrette. Just to be sure.
Serves 8 or so