There's nothing like the taste of freshly-shelled green peas in the springtime. Their delicate sweetness is elevated by a traditional pairing with mint in this dish. Cilantro joins the flavor chorus for something that truly screams spring.
For this spring barley salad, the cilantro-mint pesto gets a hint of natural sweetness from a few slices of a juicy tangerine. Every bite you take will have sweetness and crunch from the peas, perfect chewy texture from the barley and minty freshness from the pesto.
Green peas are a perfect compliment to rice and other grain dishes. Look for smaller pea pods in early spring, as the peas they yield will be smaller and sweeter. Shelling peas takes some patience but all your hard work will be worth worth it when you taste the tiny sweet morsels.
Spring Barley Salad with Green Peas and Mint
1 cup freshly-shelled green peas
1 cup pearled barley
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tangerine juice (or 4 sections of a whole tangerine)
salt and pepper to taste
First cook the barley by adding the pearled barley, water and salt to a medium saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered for 30 minutes.
Add the green peas and simmer for another 10 minutes (total simmering time of 40 minutes) so that the barley becomes perfectly tender. Pour out any excess water.
In a food processor or blender, puree the mint, cilantro, olive oil, garlic clove and tangerine juice. Add a teaspoon of water to thin it out if necessary. Toss the mint and cilantro pesto with the pea and barley mixture, add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon) and serve immediately. This dish is also delicious cold.
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Photos by Ally-Jane