I have some issues with weather this time of the year. Yes, it can be gorgeous, but it's also very unpredictable. A problem sometimes occurs when I am planning the next week's menu. On the day, I planned this week's menu, it was gorgeous...warm, sunny, temperature a perfect 65 degrees. This salad sounded fresh and springlike. Then the day rolled around that I was actually going to make this salad. It was a blustery 34 degrees, windy, and spitting snow flurries. Not the kind of weather that makes you say, "boy, I wish I had a nice, refreshing salad." But when I got home from a very stressful day at work, I could not muster the energy to rethink my original plan. So, I persevered with my salad, despite my misgivings.
I am so glad I did! This salad was amazing!!! Yes, I am partial to anything with cilantro and lime in it. But the combination of the chewy shrimp and barley, with the crisp bacon, and the yummy avocado, was fantastic. Really. I can not say enough good things about this salad. It was one of those, where we kept interrupting our eating to comment on how good it was. It also made great leftovers the next day. I served this on a bed of my favorite packaged lettuce mixes.
Also, this recipe called for cooked shrimp. And I never, ever, ever buy cooked shrimp, finding that it really lacks the flavor of shrimp you cook yourself. But for this recipe I did, and it worked fine! But one thing I did do, was that the shrimp was still a little cold after defrosting it, so before I drained the bacon grease in step 1, I sauteed the shrimp for just a minute or two to heat it up, and then drained the fat. Shrimp plus bacon fat is very, very good! I also didn't use the red onion because I don't care for raw onion, though on second thought, maybe I should have used it and tossed it in the bacon fat too! The recipe comes from Eating Well's Healthy in Hurry cookbook, and you can find it on their website here.
Bacony Barley Salad with Marinated Shrimp
3 strips bacon, chopped
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup quick-cooking barley
1 pound peeled cooked shrimp (21-25 per pound; thawed if frozen), tails removed, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1. Cook bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until crispy, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel; discard fat.
2. Add water and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Add barley and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Combine shrimp and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the cooked barley; toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the barley to absorb some of the lime juice. Add tomatoes, onion, cilantro and the bacon; toss to coat. Add oil and pepper and toss again. Stir in avocado and serve.
Showcasing my favorite herb cilantro, this will be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Anna at Morsels and Musings.
And just to see if anyone is still reading this, are you having problems with my blog freezing up? I know on my computer at school, it hangs for a really long time. Here at home, with high speed internet, I find that I have to wait a few minutes before I can scroll. I think that it may have something to do with my Amazon links, what do you all think? Any helpful advice?