Insalata di Orzo-Barley Salad


Once upon a time, at least a couple of centuries ago, the Italian Association of Pasta Namers congregated at their annual conference at St. Peter’s Foursquare to cast their vote on the ever-growing cute names for pasta shapes.  These elders gave us whimsical names like orecchiette (little ears) and strozzapreti (priest chokers).  I guess they lost their humor when they baptized the rice-shaped pasta in the box with the name orzo, which is more suitable for soup or those skeevy salads you may find fermenting under the deli case dome.


Orzo in Italian is actually the name for barley, no resemblance to the boxed stuff, but I guess they couldn’t name it riso (rice), lest some stunad tried to make risotto with it.  In any event, this grain is easy on the stomach and won’t spoil in this hot weather, just in case you decide to bring it to a BBQ or picnic. Should feed 6-8 as a side.  There are only a handful of ingredients so it is simple and quick to put together.  Below are general  measurements, which you can tweak to your taste, but don’t leave anything out.  Capeesh?


1 1/2 cups  barley, cooked per package directions

2 Tbs. capers with 3 Tbs. caper juice out of the jar

1 minced shallot

2 medium vine-ripened  tomatoes, chopped

half a jar of pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half to rule out pits

1 clove minced garlic

4 lg. leaves of fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

garlic salt to taste


After cooking the barley, about 20 minutes or so, it will maintain a firm texture. This is normal.  Taste it, you don’t want it to turn to mush.  Drain in a sieve and rinse with cold water.  Place cooled barley in large mixing bowl.  Throw in all the other ingredients you have prepped while the barley was cooking and blend.  That’s it.