Change is good

Spring is all about change. As winter leaves us (albeit slowly), and whispers of summer blow gently in on the breeze, there is an almost tangible sense of the world renewing itself...life is emerging from the ground, in the buds on the trees, and even from the animals we know and love. Lives change too...Loving Boyfriend has finished his degree, and our days of eating lunch together every day in the same building, of bouncing ideas off each other for projects and experiments, of having him just around the corner when I need a partner in crime to escape for a sunny day are now numbered...I still have almost an entire year of research left to finish my own degree. This type of change can be bittersweet - I feel simultaneously proud of him, sad to let this part of our lives end (we met the beginning of my first year), and yet still looking forward to and excited for the life we'll begin together in Hawaii next year.

Love is definitely in the air this Spring - several of my favorite blogger friends (as well as college friends, Eugene friends, and even family members) have recently had their lives change as well - in the best way possible. They're "tying the knot" with those they've fallen in love with, and I coudn't be happier for each of them! If you get a chance, stop by Clare, Michele and Molly's blogs and give them a virtual congratulations - not only are they wonderfully sweet women, but their blogs are full of delectable recipes and gorgeous photography.

Spring also brings feelings of a new beginning for me. As if the proverbial "slate" has been wiped clean and fresh. As the clouds begin to break, the sun comes out and the ground begins to dry, I find it's much easier to want to take the dogs for their evening walk. My muscles ache to get exercise - to get outside and garden, to go hiking, backpacking, or climbing. And just as I found that I wanted more hearty dishes, starches and warm, homey "comfort" food with the arrival of winter, I find that I'm now craving fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as lighter, cooler and most of all, healthier foods.

When I saw this dish (basking in the pure simplicity and laziness of an hour of lounging on the couch in my pajamas and surrounded by cooking magazines), I immediately wanted to make it: Salmon and Barley Salad. It's supposed to be a side dish, but we found it made a filling and delicious main course for two...perfect for a warm spring evening. I have a new love for barley, after making a fresh-tasting simple vegetable barley soup a few weeks ago (I'll post that too, eventually), so you'll probably be seeing a bit more of it here in the future. It's hearty, because it's packed with fiber, but doesn't feel heavy. The salad has cucumbers and thin slices of purple onions, and is topped with a vinaigrette made of lemon juice, dill, and a flavorful olive oil that make it a perfect accompaniment to the salmon. This one will definitely be made again in our house.

Salmon and Barley Salad, from Martha Stewart Living
Serves 2 as a main course, 6 as a side (or, maybe 4?)

1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 lb. salmon filet, skinned, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. coarsly chopped fresh dill
freshly ground pepper
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4" slices
lemon wedges, for serving

Put barley and 1 1/4 cups of water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until the water has been absorbed and barley is tender, around 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cover, and set aside.

Bring wine, 5 cups of water, peppercorns, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. of salt, and 1 tbsp. lemon juice to a boil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low, then simmer 5 minutes. Add salmon, and cook about 4 minutes. using a slotted spoon, remove salmon to a dish, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Whisk together remaining 1 tbsp. lemon juice, oil, dill, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Season with pepper. Toss together barley, salmon, onion, and cucumber in a large bowl. Gently fold in vinaigrette. Divide among plates; garnish with dill sprigs and serve with lemon wedges, and flavorful tomatoes, if you've got 'em.

7 comments from you:

Clare Eats said...

AWWW!!!! Thankyou :)

Ican't beleive DLB is going.... the year will fly by *cough* and you will beso busy finishing your thesis you wont even realise he is gone....

That is a greatlooking salad I have been meaning to try something like this I definately hve theinspirtion now!

Anna said...

The salad looks amazing... maybe some avocado would be a nice addition? (when they are a little more in season)
Thanks for checking out our blog - it really was a delight to see your comment. Anna and I are both doing our theses in micro labs. Congratulations on finding positions in Hawaii. Good luck wrapping things up! ~Lissa

Paz said...

Change is good. So is this salad recipe you've posted for us. Thanks!

Best wishes always,
Paz xxoo

cookiecrumb said...

Awww... sigh....
Makin' the best of it.
Your salad is totally intriguing. I've had a box of barley in the pantry for (mumble, mumble), and now I have a great, fresh-looking use for it.

michelle said...

Hi Clare! You're very welcome - thank you for all the delicious inspiration you always provide to me!

Hi Lissa! I like the avocado idea a lot! When are the two of you finishing up? Or are you in the beginning? Grad school is definitely one long, strange trip...

Hi Paz! You're cute. XOXO right back atcha!

Hi Cookiecrumb! Yep, I guess that's the best we can do! May your box o' barley still taste good after having been in there so long ;)

Nerissa said...

When I finally get some fresh salmon, I know what I am making.

When are you moving to Hawaii?

michelle said...

Hi Nerissa! We're not sure, hopefully we'll be moving together when I finish (earliest would be December, latest next Spring, I hope); but it depends on if LB can find a job here after his funding runs out in Sept...and if he gets the grant he wants this summer for Hawaii. I'll be sure to give you a big heads up before we go, it's going to be a new culinary adventure (plus some good leverage for getting visitors)!