More experimentation from The Candle Café Cookbook, inspired by the rapidly expanding mint "bed" in my garden (well, it's rapidly expanding, and I certainly hope it's mint...I didn't plant it, it just appeared a few years ago like Audrey 2 in the old Chinese man's flower shop...), and the resolve to get more use out of my wonderful panini press.
This is the Caesar salad with herbed croutons and nori dressing, the Minty barley pilaf, and Asian baked tofu.
Croutons are so good and so easy to make--whenever I do make them I wonder why I don't have them every day.
The nori dressing's interesting, a tofu/soymilk base with mustard, capers, lemon juice, garlic, tamari, hot sauce--and a sheet of nori, which sounded so strange I had to try it. I love nori but this is one of those recipes I'll have to experience more than once to get used to the taste in a salad dressing. Luckily the recipe makes two cups, so I'll get that wish.
The pilaf I adapted. The original recipe calls for dried shiitake mushrooms, but in my opinion the marriage of barley and mushrooms isn't, as it were, inevitably fated, and I prefer those ingredients single. I added more vegetables instead, and, since to me a pilaf isn't a pilaf unless you start by frying something, I changed the method somewhat as well. Here's what I did:
Minty barley pilaf
adapted from The Candle Café Cookbook
1 cup pot barley, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tbsp umeboshi vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 red radishes, minced
4 green onions (white and green parts), chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and, when hot, add the onion and carrots and fry until the onions are translucent. Add 3 cups of water and the barley, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the barley is tender.
Remove from heat and stir in the other ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once.
Note: This was even better cold the next day as a salad.
Note 2: It's spearmint, doubters!