I eat a lot of salads throughout the year, even in the winter. I love all salad ingredients – great lettuces, avocados, beets, cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, sometimes grilled meat or warm tuna, maybe some nuts or seeds and cheese… I love to mix them up and also pay great attention to my vinaigrettes. I make them all from scratch.
But then, there’s this one salad I’ve actually made multiple times. I might fudge a little on the layering of this composed salad, but I use the same ingredients that were listed in the original recipe because they’re so good together. I don’t remember where I got the recipe, because it’s cut and glued to an index card, but it’s most likely from a cooking magazine. I’ve been enamored with Bon Appetit for longer than any other, so that’s my guess.
These are the ingredients: Barley, purple cabbage, carrots, celery, dried cherries, and feta cheese. Intrigued? I was, and now I’m hooked.
It’s very pretty for company when you serve it in a trifle dish, like I did in these photos, or any deep clear bowl. The layering is an important aspect to this salad. Furthermore, each component is treated separately for maximum flavor, and then layered.
The recipe is really in two parts. One part, the vinaigrette. The other part, the salad itself.
My Favorite Salad
In a small blender, combine 1 cup of good olive oil, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, the juice of 2 large lemons, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of Dijon-style mustard, and a little salt. Blend until smooth; keep at room temperature.
2 cups barley, I used an Ethiopian black barley just for fun, but any kind will work
Grated carrots, about 8 ounces
1 whole purple cabbage, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 packages dried tart cherries
8 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Cook the barley in 4 cups of water or broth if you prefer. Let cool slightly. Once it’s almost room temperature, mix the barley with about 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and set aside.
Place the grated carrots in a small bowl and add about 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette, stir well, and set aside.
Place the cabbage in a large bowl and toss with about 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Have the rest of the ingredients handy.
Layer half of the barley in the bottom of your salad serving bowl or dish.
Continue like this with the remaining ingredients, topping off with the last of the dried cherries and goat cheese.
Let the salad sit for at least an hour. Or, make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight, letting all of the flavors meld together. But serve at room temperature, to give it time to warm up.
I also serve this salad with extra vinaigrette for those who want that extra hit of vinegar. And, if this salad is for those who require protein, it is fabulous with layers of grilled chicken.
Mix and match your favorite ingredients – lentils would work instead of barley, for example – and I’m not a huge celery fan, which is why I only allowed one layer of it. But do include the dried cherries and goat cheese!