Warm Spinach Salad with Barley Bacon

Makes 4 servings


1/2 cup hull-less barley, rinsed

2 small black cardamom or 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 sun-dried tomato halves

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari

1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large leek, white part, sliced in half and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Sea salt and black pepper

2 bunches (about 8 cups) fresh spinach

1/4 cup toasted pepitas

1. Combine the barley, cardamom, tomato, bay leaf, water and tamari in a pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Remove and discard the cardamom and bay. Drain the barley, reserving the tomato and the broth. Set aside.

2. Combine the mushrooms and the reserved broth from the barley in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside to rehydrate, about 10 more minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the broth, and rinse the mushrooms lightly. Strain the mushroom/barley broth through a coffee filter or reusable tea bag. You should have about 1/4 cup. Rinse the pot and add the broth. Bring to boil and reduce by half. Add the vinegar, sugar and plenty of black pepper.

3. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the barley. Chop the porcini mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the barley. Cook until the barley is slightly crunchy, but don’t over cook. Remove, leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet, and set aside.

4. Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until golden, about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

5. Warm the dressing if it has cooled. Add the spinach to an extra large bowl and top with the vegetables and dressing. Toss well. If it isn’t wilting, warm the bowl slightly (stainless steel only!) on the stove while tossing the spinach. When lightly wilted, divide among 4 bowls and top equally with the barley and pepitas.  Serve.


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