With the spring vegetables already available in the markets, there’s no better way to enjoy them than use them in salads wherein the high points of their tastes are celebrated. Vibrant green, crispy, sweet and extremely fresh in the mouth, the newly-harvested garden peas at the local farmer’s vegetable stand were a treasure in this green salad mixed with barley. Adding a bit of celery blossoms and basil from my garden pots, asparagus, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, and perhaps some canned tuna if you prefer a tastier version from the one without, this barley salad is a festival of flavors and the great spring season on the table.
I paired it with Vini Raimondo Cybelle Rosato IGT 2017. Made with 100% Cesanese di Affile, the grapes were harvested early by hand in late September, to maintain the crispiness. There was skin contact for 3 hours giving a clear salmon color, fermented in stainless steel and aged aged sur lees for 5 months with double batonnage a week to extract more aromas and flavors. The nose has a pronounced intensity of red berries and flowers. Strawberries make a prevalent impact, followed by other raspberries, sweet candy scent, and blush powder. In the palate, the wine is persistent, the acidity is high with pronounced sapidity. It is one of Lazio region’s best rosè wines.
Vini Raimondo is a small family-owned winery run by Eleonora Perez, her husband Romulo and father Giuseppe, after her grandparents started the activity. The winery’s oenologist is Fabio Giuli. It has four hectares of land positioned at an elevation of 500 meters above sea level with the vineyards on steep slopes which permit harvests only by hand. An unspoiled land, the vineyards are surrounded by woods that are populated by foxes. The soil is composed mainly of white soil which is prevalently sandy. The winters are rigid while summers have diurnal temperature variations which are optimum in increasing the ripening qualities of the grapes.
Spring Vegetable Barley Salad
- 250 grams pearl barley
- 1 kilo fresh garden peas, shelled
- 300 grams asparagus, hard ends cut off
- Fresh basil, handful
- Celery blossoms, handful (optional)
- 1/2 to 1 lemon, juice only
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 180-gram can of tuna, drained
- 1. Prepare 2 pots with water.
- 2. In one pot, add the pearl barley and salt then bring to a boil over medium to high heat. When it boils, simmer on low fire for 20 minutes or until they are tender. When they are cooked, rinse under the tap, drain and set aside.
- 3. Bring the other pot to a boil over high heat then add some salt. Drop the peas and cook for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, strain them then drop them in a bowl of iced water for an ice bath. Let them cool down, strain then set aside.
- 4. In the same pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus for 10 minutes, strain and drop them in the bowl of iced water for an ice bath. Strain when they have cooled down then chop to smaller pieces.
- 5. In a big serving bowl, mix the peas, asparagus barley, basil, celery blossoms (if using), and tuna (if using).
- 6. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, mix the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- 7. Pour the dressing on the salad before serving.