This post is also available in: French
As a child, I always felt a persistent sadness come over me at the end of summer. It’s not that I didn’t like the beautiful autumn colors that overtook the crowns of the trees, or those walks in the park, when the dry leaves made a pleasant crunching noise with each step I took. I loved all of that, along with the smell of fire and wet forest while mushroom foraging with my father, and bundling up in a newly knitted wool scarf. But whichever way you look at it, the end of summer will always represent the end of warmth, the end of vacations, and, to an extent, the end of freedom. Back to school, how I hated those words. I was always a good student, and once school got going, I didn’t mind it that much, but it was that transitional period between summer and fall that always gave me the blues.
Even now, in my adult years, those feelings manage to come back during this time of year. Although the end of summer in Florida represents relief from exhausting heat, I still cringe when I see too many school buses on the road. Paloma started kindergarten this year, and although it is just kindergarten (that’s what I keep telling myself), there are all of a sudden all these rules and restrictions that have to be followed, and I was never a fan of that aspect of school. Luckily, Paloma doesn’t share my feelings and is very excited about a new environment. After only two days as a kindergartener, I noticed how friendly she’s managed to become with all of her teachers and other school staff, greeting everyone by name in the morning with a big shining smile. I am jealous and not ready to let summer go.
Before summer tomatoes disappear until next year, I want to share this hearty salad recipe with you. I’ve made it with different grains, beans and even orzo over the course of the summer and loved it every time. This variation with barley and forbidden black rice is particularly pretty when combined with multicolored heirloom tomatoes and herbs. Aside from eating them raw, slow roasting tomatoes is my favourite way of preparing them. Their caramelized juices work beautifully with any grains and eliminate the need for additional dressing. This dish is substantial enough to serve as a meal on its own and becomes even better the next day, when the flavours are further incorporated.
Barley Tomato Salad
1 lb tomatoes on the vine
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves – minced
2 cups yellow or red cherry tomatoes – cut in half
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pearled barley – soaked overnight and cooked for about 20 minutes, until soft, drained and cooled
1/2 cup heirloom forbidden black rice or other black rice – cooked according to package instructions, cooled
assorted 3-5 heirloom tomatoes – sliced
3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
handful basil leaves – torn
about 2 tablespoons each minced dill and parsley – optional
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Place your tomatoes on the vine into a baking dish. In a small, bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coconut sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic. Pour over the tomatoes, place in the oven and roast for 1 to 11/2 hours until they are soft and appear cooked.
2. Increase oven temperature to 400 F. Spread the cherry tomatoes on a parchment paper-covered baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook for about 12 minutes.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the barley, rice, both types of roasted tomatoes and their juices, fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes and herbs. Gently toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper if desired and add more olive oil if needed.
4. Serve immediately or let cool completely and store covered in a refrigerator.
Note: Substitute the barley and/or rice with any other grains, beans or pasta. You don’t have to use 2 types, just one will be very good as well.