3 May 2015

Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese and Other Picnic-Worthy Salads

Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese
I am very high on Puglia although I have never been fortunate enough to travel there. In my humble opinion it is the “next Tuscany” for the culinary traveller and high on my travel bucket list. It is exotic, yet accessible. 

When I travel I like to live with the locals. Breaking bread at the same table has always been in my minds eye the best way to discover a country and its people. I want to live day to day and harvest olives and grapes that have grown and matured under the heat of the southern sun and taste their richness and aromatic flavour. The Murge in Puglia is dotted with mysterious-looking conical shelters called "I Trulli" where I want to live out my days. They were built by an ancient race and although they are still used for agricultural storage they are slowly being converted into accommodation for locals and tourists alike. 

Stretching out eastward towards Greece and Byzantium, Puglia, the heel Italy's boot, the photos I see look more like sun-toasted Greece than any part of the rest of Italy. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to places like Calabria and Sicily like a siren call. Nearly 500 miles of ever-changing coastline wraps around a geological treasure trove of variation, from the craggy and hilly Gargano peninsula to the Murge, the high grassy plain that dominates the centre of this region of wheat and olive farming. 

The food is a sum of local ingredients, dominated by olives and their oil, dried legumes such as favas and ceci beans, wild foraged greens, onions and lily bulbs, peppers and wheat. The bread of Puglia is renowned throughout all of Italy and is used fresh, dried and stale in hundreds of dishes. The local pasta is made of durum wheat and is formed into chewy disks called orecchiette (little ears) or twisted pappardelle cognates called sagne. This same area is famous for its cheese like “Caciocavallo Pugliese” or "Provolone", but the gods were smiling when they found "burrata,"so creamy that it melts in your mouth and takes on a certain spirituality. 

On another wanderlust day I packed up a picnic lunch dreaming of Puglia and its craggy coastline. My impromptu meal sprang from my kitchen and was enjoyed amongst the apple blossoms of a local winery. My Puglia-inspired picnic started with a very transportable marinated burrata with garlic flavoured bread (recipe to come) and this Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino that comes from my friend Laura of The Culinary Travel Guide. To round out the meal delicious salami and marinated olives. 

One of the pleasures of travelling is in finding the unexpected like this Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese from the Garum Factory Website.  I am also very high on hulled barley since this is my second barley salad in as many weeks. Barley may look ordinary but the taste of hulled barley is unlike any barley you are used to.  The Garum Factory says, "Many of the more forward thinking participants in Italy’s agritourismo movement are trying to preserve regional variations on farm products that for one reason or another have fallen from grace or never gained the favour of larger commercial ventures. Barley is a case in point–in Puglia, where it’s often hulled, rather than pearled, it’s chewy." And I like it!! Also called barley groats it holds its shape and its texture and has a satisfying chewiness and a robust flavour that stands up well to lamb, mushrooms and cheese, or makes a great textural contrast to vegetables, as in this salad. It is perfect for picnics with no need for refrigeration.

Add a little bit of magic to your everyday life! Head for the hills with your picnic basket and a bottle of wine and dream.

**Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese**
The Garumfactory Website.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil½ medium onion, peeled, quartered
½ celery stalk, peeled, quartered
½ carrot, peeled, quartered
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup hulled barley, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 bay leaves
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons rinsed capers
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup fennel, shaved on a mandolin or cut into ¼-inch dice
¼  cup celery, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
¼  cup red onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
½ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup chopped herbs—mint, basil, parsley, thyme
1½ cups tomatoes, chopped into ½ inch dice, or if using small ones, cut in half or quarters
3 ounces pecorino cheese, finely grated

For instructions please visit The Garumfactory Website. 

Serves 4

Other picnic perfect salads ….

Orzo Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Basil Vinaigrette and Ricotta Salata
Spiralized Greek Salad with Lemon and Feta
Laura Calder's French Potato Salad
Dill and Fennel Frond Potato Salad
Wild Arugula Salad with Sopressata and Pecorino
Orzo Pasta Salad My Way

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. delicious combination of flavours

  2. You are my second friend to be utterly smitten with Puglia, Val. :-) Your descriptions have me longing to go there. :-)

  3. A lovely salad! So many great flavours.



  4. Puglia is a gem to be discovered--now I want to make that discovery. I'll put this delicious recipe in my summer salad file.


  5. Hi Val!
    Loved your info on Puglia...have never been there, but like you, want so much to go.
    Barley is so versatile, I love it...but hulled barley is a new one for me...it even looks different when cooked. Interesting salad and now that we're getting into picnic salad mode, I'm going to try it. Lovely presentation too!
    Nice roundup of summer salads.

  6. i've never heard of puglia, isn't that awful! if all the food is as fabulous as this, i definitely need to look into a visit. :)

  7. Last year I saw an episode of House Hunters International titled "A Trulli Happy Life in Puglia, Italy" and its been near the top of my lust list ever since.

    As for the barley salad, this is just one of many fantastic recipes from The Garum Factory! Jody is a former Top Chef Master and runs two Italian restaurants in Boston, while her husband Ken is a gifted writer and photographer. Between them, they've created a top notch food blog. Every recipe of theirs I've tried has been a keeper.


  8. You are sharing delicious salads recipes Val. I want to try them all.

  9. All your salads look delicious. The barley salad would also be great with farro.

  10. I had heard about Puglia Val and always I think is amazing.
    lovely salad you made Val.
    love the colours!!


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