In June my husband and I crossed over the 31 year mark for our marriage (can I get an Amen?) I would say we have a pretty great relationship, but it didn't just happen, because as we all know you don't get somewhere good on accident. We've had our share of ups and downs, disappointments as well as celebrations. I have lived the majority of my life with this man and I'm grateful for him everyday. Over the years we've learned each others likes and dislikes, quirky behaviors, and have fallen into a natural rhythm of routine...I make the meals, he takes out the trash, I buy the plants for the garden, he plants them. It all seems to work harmoniously, for the most part.
Generally we are both pretty easy going. we are not the yelling or arguing kind of people. If we have a disagreement we head off to our respective corners if you will, until we've cooled down enough to talk through the issue. There aren't too many things that get under his skin, only a handful that I can think of off the top of my head. The one extreme dislike for him that comes to mind is Brussels sprouts. I think it goes back to some childhood experience that scarred him for life. When he was served something, that at one time was probably green, but when it got to his plate was cooked in such a way that it had a grayish haze. And no longer having any semblance of texture was basically a pile of soggy balls. Oh the horror. That would have scarred me too! So to this day, even the smell of these cooking in the house makes him gag. So if I ever have a craving, I wait until he's traveling or order them at a restaurant.
Recently though, I was feeling a little daring, and dare I say, rebellious. It was lunchtime and we were both at home. I just happened to have some of these little green balls of deliciousness in the fridge. I knew I couldn't cook them for fear of some revolt so I decided to make a salad of shaved raw Brussels. I was as happy as a clam, knowing that in a short time I would have a yummy salad that would satisfy my craving. I honestly wasn't making the salad for him...I figured I'd make him a sandwich. But as the salad was getting its finishing sprinkle of chives he came walking in...he started moving toward the salad bowl...he grabbed a fork...and then a plate. I just stood there. I think I was in some kind of trance. Although, honestly I have to admit, I was just trying to keep a straight face. Yes, I confess, I let him do it. All while I just watched him fill his plate, gave me a little smile, said "thank you for lunch" and then walked into his office. I wasn't sure what would happen next. Because the Brussels were shaved they didn't 'look' like themselves. I thought maybe this would change his mind. Maybe, just maybe I have the power to weld some sort of Brussels sprout conversion experience. I waited. I ate my lunch. Then he came back in. His first question "What was in that?" My answer "Did you like it?" his reply. "no."
I came clean.
I am happy to report that we are still happily married after the Brussels incident. I in fact did not convert my husband into a Brussels lover, that train is long gone. But I'm now much more truthful about ingredients in things and he is a little more cautious where unknown green vegetables are concerned. So, if you are a not offended by the little Brussels sprout, or if your even on the fence about it give this salad a try. It may not change your life, but it's a great lunch. -Shannon
A Barley, Brussels and Portobello Salad
1 ¼ cups water
Pinch of salt
½ cup uncooked pearl barley, rinsed
2 large Portobello mushrooms
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup white wine (or broth)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Pinch of dried oregano
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 shallot, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lb. Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded
4 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
In a large saucepan, bring the water and salt to a rolling boil, stir in the barley, and boil for 2 minutes. Turn down the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 40-50 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Uncover, remove from heat, and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool while preparing the rest of the salad.
Brush the tops of the mushroom with a damp cloth to remove any grit and discard the stems. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the mushrooms gill-side down, and sear for 2 minutes; flip and sear 1 more minute, then flip over once more. add the wine, soy sauce, and oregano and bring the liquid to a boil. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat, and braise the mushrooms until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
While the mushroom are braising, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add the Brussels sprouts and massage in the dressing for 2 minutes to tenderize. Add the scallions, cranberries, and walnuts. Stir in the warm barley.
Slice the mushroom caps into 1/2-inch strips. Spoon the barley mixture into serving bowls, top with mushroom strips, and garnish with chopped chives.
Adapted from Salad Samurai