Barley Salad with Radishes, Asparagus, Tarragon and Mint

Barley is so often relegated to the soup pot and not thought of past the last cold night of the year. If you've never had barley in a salad, you don't know what you're missing! It's light, absorbs flavors beautifully and has the perfect al dente bounce to add amazing texture to a grain salad.

I whipped up this salad on my asparagus binge, but was side-tracked by the beauty of the radishes in the box this week.

Radishes are one of the first things out of the ground in the Spring, beating asparagus by a couple weeks at least. Who can help but fall in love with their splashy season opening skills?!

This salad offers a lot great textures with the crunch of the celery, asparagus, radishes and the bounce of the barley, but also some pretty terrific layers of flavor with the mint, tarragon, lemon juice and white balsamic vinegar. If you don't have white balsamic vinegar, just use white wine vinegar or even tarragon vinegar. Just don't use regular balsamic vinegar or this won't be nearly as pretty! Serve it up in a big bowl as above or plate it up on a bed of pea tendrils or Spring greens for a beautiful first course salad. It would be nice with a little goat cheese crumbled on it as well. Tonight I'm making Lily's favorite grilled salmon and serving this as a side. Enjoy!

Barley Salad with Radishes, Asparagus, Tarragon and Mint

1 cup pearled barley
1 pound asparagus - cooked until just tender, blanched in cold water.
2 celery stalks, diced
6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 part extra-virgin olive oil
1 part lemon juice
1/2 part white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Cook barley according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. You want the barley to have a little bounce to it, not mushy. Put the barley in a big bowl and add the asparagus, celery, radishes, tarragon and mint. In a jar with a lid, mix ingredients for the dressing. I give it to you in parts so you can make as much as you like. Sometimes it's nice to refresh the salad with a little extra dressing before serving. Pour over salad and mix gently