Friday, July 2, 2010

Toasted Barley Salad with Fresh Herbs, Heirloom Tomatoes & Zucchini (from the Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, CA)

Oh, hi!  Has it really been one week, since I last posted?  I'm on my last day of a two-week vacation and I've literally taken a vacation from cooking at home-- if you don't count breakfast and maybe a lunch or two.  Craig and I decided to enjoy the sights of California within a 150 mile radius, for our vacation week together.  We've been having a blast!  We spent two nights at my BFF's home in the California Bay Area-- just a little over an hour scenice drive to Napa.  Last Sunday, the four of us took off for a day trip.   I had a personal agenda, and my friends graciously agreed to take us.  I really wanted to return to the Culinary Institute at Greystone, in St. Helena.  This property is so beautiful, and rich in history. It was once the Christian Brothers Monastery and winery.  The views of the local vineyards are spectacular.

The CIA is truly a food lover's dream destination.  One of these days, I'm going to splurge and spend a few hundred dollars for a hands on one-day class.  In the meantime, the CIA at Greystone offers a cooking demo in their lovely classroom, at a bargain price.

For $15.00, you can attend a one hour demo; for an additional $10.00 you can take a guided tour through Greystone. The tour includes visiting the kitchens were aspiring chefs spend two years studying the culinary arts.  I bought tickets for myself and my Best Friend (of 34 years and counting...)  While waiting for the class to begin, I took a few shots of the Culinary Institute.  My camera flash decided to break, so I was working with natural lighting, shooting through glass and trying to be quick.  Hence, the photography isn't stellar, but I hope to share with you a taste of my fun day:

There was a remodel since I last visited, and it's very impressive. The Toy Culinary Store has every culinary tool that you can imagine.  Craig is standing at their new "Flavor Bar". Here you can pay $10.00 to watch a video on "How to Calibrate Your Palate".  Basically, you are given some spices and herbs and you watch a video that shows you how different spices, salt or citrus can enhance or change the flavor of food. As Pat and I were walking to class, I took a shot of Craig and Cliff, taking the class.  The bottom right shot is the amphitheater, where lectures are given to chefs.  This is my dream kitchen island! Also new is the "Chocolate Section" classroom...

You can pay $10.00 for a video class on chocolate tasting.  Our class was ready to start, so all I could do was to photograph these beautiful confections.  The bottom right photo is the Viking Class, where you can come and take a hands on class. Ready to take this class, folks?

The control panel in the CIA classroom... I was shooting through glass, no flash and the room lights weren't turned on yet.  Every seat has a great view, but you can also watch the demo on the monitors. What's for lunch? Toasted Barley Salad with Fresh Herbs, Heirloom Tomatoes & Zucchini.  I'll be honest, here.  I wasn't chomping at the bit over this recipe, at first. It sounded.... well, unexciting.  My friend said she wasn't crazy about barley and I wasn't sure that I was. Truthfully, I've only used barley in soup.  But, I had come this far, and there was no turning back.  Five minutes before class time, the classroom door opened.  Naturally, Pat and I were front row and center. We're ready!

The mis en place is ready for the demo...

Chef used heirloom tomatoes in all kinds of pretty colors. He diverted from the recipe a bit, by using purple basil, rather than cilantro.  I love cilantro and basil-- and I forget to buy purple basil.  According to the chef, green basil is "so last year".  I learned a few tips and once we got a taste of the salad, we both liked it.  It only whet my appetite to make my own big bowl.  I am officially converted to loving barley in a salad! There are lots of health benefits to eating barley, too!  Barley helps to lower cholesterol and it helps to um... well, let's just say that the fiber works great. 'Nuff said.  I made this salad, when I got home so here is my own "Foodiewife" Demo:

Our own container tomatoes aren't ready yet. Summer temperatures have had a very slow start on the Central Coast of California. Fortunately, our local farm stand had beautiful red heirloom tomatoes for $3.95 a pound. I had hoped for more color, but it's all red for today.  What a lucky score for me-- there was freshly picked purple basil! Better yet, I got to take all I wanted for $1.00! 

I hope you can find pine nuts.  I had no idea that, other than Christmas, they are challenging to find.  Trader Joe's just got a shipment of these in--they were out for a couple of weeks. They're a little pricey at $7.99 for an 8 oz. bag (NOTE TO SELF: Stock up when Costco gets them again and keep them in the freezer.)  You want to take the extra step of toasting each of these.  To toast the barley, heat a dry skillet to medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly toasted-- about 5 minutes.  Set the toasted barley aside.

 To toast the pine nuts, place them on a baking sheet (parchment paper is helpful) and roast at 350F for about five minutes. Watch them carefully, so they don't burn!  Set aside.

 Bring chicken stock to a boil and cook the barley, covered,  for about 15 minutes.  Stir every so often. If the chicken stock evaporates before the barley is cooked, at a Tablespoon of water or so.  Cook until al dente (slight crunch) and set aside, covered for 5 minutes.  Allow to cool at room temperature.

Fortunately, I have quite a bit of curly parsley in our herb garden.  I was glad to hear the CIA chef say that curly parsley is for more than just a garnish. I do think it's a bit sweeter than Italian parsley.  Use what you prefer.  You'll want to cut the zucchini, lengthwise, and scrape the seeds with a spoon.  The CIA chef sauteed the zucchini in a little olive oil, seasoned with kosher salt & pepper-- so that's what I did.  It only took 3-4 minutes to reach a light golden brown. You can skip this step, if you want.  Set the zucchini aside to cool.

I thank my husband's gardening skills for our two container lemon trees.  The Meyer lemon tree is loaded with lots of little green tasty fruit to come. I picked a Eureka lemon, fresh from the garden.  You'll want the lemon juice and the zest. I didn't photograph the chopped red onion-- I think you know how to do that, by now! Okay, let's assemble this dish:

To make a "chiffonade" of basil, simple stack a pile of leaves.  Roll and then slice.  In a large bowl, add all of the veggies, herbs, lemon zest and half the lemon juice,  and some extra-virgin olive oil (about 2 Tbsp.) Taste! Add some kosher salt. Taste again.  I recommended adding the seasonings a little at a time. Trust your own taste buds, okay?  I added more lemon juice. The lemon juice should have a brightness to it, but shouldn't overwhelm the entire salad.    Once you are happy with the flavor, add the barley and then the pine nuts.  Gently combine and give one final taste. I needed just a pinch more of kosher salt.

Hello, Summer!  This would look even prettier if I had some yellow or orange heirloom tomatoes!

If you can find purple basil (or grow it, yourself) it's delicious!  I'm going to make a purple pesto with the leftover basil and pine nuts-- just like the CIA Chef suggested!

VERDICT: The recipe tasted just like the small sample we received at the Culinary Institute.  I loved the crunch of the toasted pine nuts and barley.  Who doesn't love sun-ripened tomatoes?  I loved the perfect balance of lemon with just a very light coating of olive oil.  I ate three bowls of this salad, without one single ounce of guilt.  This would make a pretty side dish at a barbecue or any kind of potluck.  I agree, as the chef said, that this salad should be served and eaten within an hour of making this. Otherwise, I think the barley and pine nuts would begin to lose that crunch-- which is what I loved about the texture of this salad. 

I'm glad to share something that isn't over-the-top caloric comfort food. As always the recipe is at the bottom of this post.   A few last photos from the CIA tour:

Walking fairly fast, with no flash and scattered natural lighting, I took a few snapshots of the Culinary Institute of America's training kitchen.  It's huge!  How about that stockpot?!

Wouldn't I love to play in the baking area-- which is equally huge!  However, it's really hot in there. I was wilting...the outside temps were 99degrees.  The kitchen doesn't have air-conditioning, which makes sense. I noticed that the kitchen are was very clean and organized.  Thanks for joining me on a tour of the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA.   Someday, I dream of being sponsored to participate in some kind of culinary adventure.  I'd be there, no matter what! I love this place!

Today is our last official day of vacation.  We're headed off on another road trip and will return some time this evening.   I have lots of recipes to blog, but I need to make the time. I'll be back. Soon. I promise!

Thanks for visiting with me!

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Jen_from_NJ said...

This salad looks perfect! I love how colorful and healthy it is. I am so glad that I have a bag of pine nuts from Costco in the freezer. I didn't realize that they are a seasonal item. Happy 4th!

Joe Ambrosino said...

A great looking salad. By the way, pine nuts are grown in China and Italy.Perhaps it's my imagination, but the Italian nuts taste better in my opinion. If I'm not mistaken, the ones in your photo come from China. They are generally smaller and fatter than the Italian ones that are long and thin.I'd be interested in learning the result of a side by side comparison if you ever do one.

Patti (aka Mint) said...

This sounds so good! It's pretty too. (I'm one that has to have color on my plate or I'm just not happy LOL)
The culinary institute sounds amazing! I sure wish we had something like that around here. My husband's paycheck wouldn't like it, but I sure would! :) Thanks for sharing your trip and this great recipe!

Joanne said...

You are making me wish even more than usual that I could go to the CIA! It's amazing how good such a simple dish can be, but with all those fresh ingredients (and that totally en vogue purple basil) it's easy to see why.

Joyce said...

Great salad. I have gone to Greystone for some classes in the past and have never been disappointed. Thanks for taking me along on your tour.

Stacey Snacks said...

I love this salad Deb.
My Trader Joe's has been out of pine nuts for weeks, so I had to spend the big bucks and buy them at my regular grocery store. boo hoo.
So nice that you can take mini vacations all over your gorgeous state!
Enjoy the rest of your vacation and happy 4th!

Raina said...

Wow! What a great place to visit. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. This salad sounds so delicious. I have never seen purple basil. I will have to be on the look out for it. Thanks for sharing this. This is my kind of dish for sure.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Debby. I enjoyed your latest post, with the great CIA tales and the wonderful recipe. I hope you enjoy your holiday weekend!



Carole said...

Oh, Debby, thanks so much for sharing your day at the CIA. There is a show that airs on NBC affiliates called "In Wine Country," and I recall seeing this property. (Your mention of it being a Christian Brothers monastery & winery reminded me.)

And the salad--yum! I'll have to hunt for purple basil, but it will be worth the effort if I locate it.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful day with us.

TKW said...

What a beautiful, healthy salad! I'll be making this one!

bellini valli said...

Like you I had just limited myself to using barley for soups.Time to bring it out of the closet.

Ingrid said...

Happy 4th, Debby! Looks like you're having a fun and delicious vacation!

Monica H said...

I just noticed that you changed your photo on your side bar. You look so lovely in red- great pic!

Pine nuts are expensive but so are every other nut. I can usually get them in bulk at places like Whole Foods and such so you can buy only what you need.

I wasn't sure about the barley either but it's a very pretty salad. And I've never seen purple basil. I'm excited to see your pesto!

Have a great weekend.

Noelle Marie said...

love the purple basil! can't wait to see the pesto you turn out. the CIA is on my list too. we've driven by so many times, too many good wines to taste i suppose. loved all the photos!

thanks for the Costco tip on the pine nuts too. i thought this was just the price you pay for good pesto... :-)

TKW said...

Wow, that place looks amazing! Talk about fancy!

The salad looks wonderful and healthy!

Suzanne aka vivisue said...

Excellent photos (despite the challenges) and love the story! What a bonus to get a great recipe along with all that!!! I love a good, healthy salad and this fits the bill. Can't wait to try this one.