Up until a few days ago, Kevin and I were subsisting on the kindness and efforts of my sister and both our mothers. We have a freezer filled to the brim with food that has lasted for weeks. It has been a godsend, and I don't know how to thank them properly (as usual).
I've also discovered the joy of Trader Joe's prepared food. I know I'm seriously behind the curve here, but their pre-cut and pre-washed bags of greens, like swiss chard and kale, save so much time. As do their artichoke ravioli and pesto sauce. Did you know this? Of course you did. I don't care that these things cost almost twice as much as if I prepared them myself, I just don't give a damn.
Still, at some point I had to start cooking again. Oh haha you think it's because of some joy or love of cooking that couldn't keep me away...hahaha no it's more because our freezer stash is running out.
These days I am engaging in some very serious and scholarly reading, namely in the form of magazines, including Bon Appetit. They have a great feature dedicated to fast and fresh dishes. This warm cauliflower and herbed barley salad is right up our alley. I served it as a side to the aforementioned artichoke ravioli, but it can be a light meal on its own.
Place barley in small or medium saucepan with enough water to cover by 2 inches. I threw in a couple of chicken bouillon cubes to enhance the flavor (or you could just chicken broth). Season with salt (unless you're using a salted cooking liquid/bouillon cubes). Bring to boil, lower to gentle boil, and cook until barley is tender---the recipe said 25-30 minutes, but mine took more like 20-25 minutes.
To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, and 5 TBS olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet or saute pan, heat the remaining 1 TBS oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, spreading them out in an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is browned in spots, about 10-12 minutes--it partly depends on the size of your cauliflower florets, I cut min pretty small to try and ensure a shorter cooking time and as many browned spots as possible. Add 2 TBS water, and cook and cover for 1-2 minutes, until cauliflower is just tender. Not mushy!
This is pre-water.
In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, barley, beans, parsley, tarragon and dressing.