|Hulled black barley|
Recipe: Chickpeas, Barley, Tomato, Bacon and Avocado Bowl
Serves: 2 as a main
I really love the taste of whole toasted cumin seeds. If you only have ground cumin, start with a moderately heaping 1 teaspoon. If you want to go vegetarian or vegan, substitute strips of braised, smoked or baked tofu for the bacon and add it when you garnish. Some sweet or hot smoked paprika can substitute for the smokey bacon flavor if you wish. The parsley is the main "greens" ingredient but you could use chard, kale, spinach or any other green of choice. This salad tastes best if you can let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. If you do that, take it out before you eat - it's best served at room temperature.
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon cut crosswise into 1/2" lardons
- 1/4 cup reserved, sliced scallions
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 dozen large roughly chopped raw (or toasted) almonds
- 1/2 (large) avocado, diced (do this right before you serve)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
- generous pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 large, or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 scallions, sliced or cut in 1" julienne strips. Reserve about 1/4 cup for garnish
- 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup roughly chopped parsley
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup cooked hulled barley
- Juice of 1 lime or 1 small-ish lemon
salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning.
Add the chickpeas and the barley to a microwave-safe bowl large enough to toss along with the other ingredients. If your chickpeas and barley came out of the refrigerator, stick it in the microwave and heat it up for a couple of minutes.
Heat a 10" non-stick skillet on medium high. If you are using a regular skillet, add a couple of teaspoons olive oil to the pan and when it begins to shimmer, add the bacon. Cook until it's browned, but not too crispy and somewhat tender. Remove, and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Pour the fat from the pan into a heat proof bowl and reserve. Wipe out the pan with bunched-up paper towels to remove the tiny crispy bits of bacon. Set the bacon aside, but don't put it in the refrigerator.
Put the pan back on the heat and add 1 teaspoon of the reserved fat. After about 15 seconds, add the cumin seeds and the red pepper flakes and toast over medium heat for a couple of minutes. The cumin should be a little darker and will be very aromatic. Clear a little spot and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add 2 more teaspoons of the reserved fat, then add the scallions and the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan with a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. The scallions should soften, but the tomatoes should not be cooked so long they begin to break down.
Remove the skillet from the stove and add the mixture to the combined chickpeas and barley. Toss and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Squeeze in the juice of one lime (or lemon); toss and taste again. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
At least 1/2 hour before you serve remove the salad from the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, taste it once more and adjust the seasoning if necessary then divide it into two bowls. Dice the avocado and garnish each bowl with the avocado, chopped almonds, reserved chopped scallions, parsley and top with the crispy bacon lardons.