Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Toasted Barley and Green Bean with Tofu Salad

First, I hope everyone survived Hurricane Irene. Luckily, Ithaca had some rain and wind but really it just felt like a blustery October the end of August. Of course, other areas didn't fair so well.

In other news we watched "Biutiful," the Javier Bardem foreign film, over the weekend. Whoa daddy that's a long and strange movie. It was certainly moving but also a gritty and raw movie. In full disclosure my kind of movie is generally fun and light. I have a long list of movies I'd like to see but it's hard to get in the mood to see more difficult or heavy movies so I tend to be attracted to lighter movies. For that reason alone, I'm happy to have seen Biutiful because it's important for me to do things beyond my normal routine.

On and off over the past few weeks our CSA is packed with green beans. Honestly, I can mindlessly snack my way through our entire green bean provisions. A quick search and I stumbled upon this delicious salad recipe. I love love l.o.v.e. mushrooms so I was all over this idea.

First up is to deal with the tofu.

Since the tofu is packed in water and made up with lots of water I needed to press out some of the water before roasting it in the oven. Check out my contraption - it does the job.

About 45 minutes and a couple of paper towel changes later and these little guys were ready to go. I cut them up and threw them into the marinade for half an hour.

Moving onto the barley. First, I toasted the barley in a little sesame oil for a few minutes and added water to the pot to cook the grains.

The tofu and barley take about the same amount of time to cook. I love it when that happens! Less coordinating = better. Toss the tofu into the oven.

The next steps are super quick. Chop up and saute some mushrooms.

You guys, I love mushrooms. I swear I could eat this whole pan of sauteed mushrooms. The original recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms to couple well with the other asian-inspired flavors of the dressing. Here's the thing, that is expensive fungus. These regular old mushrooms were more within my price point and frankly still delicious.

Onto the glorious green beans. I trimmed the ends off the little guys and cut them in thirds. Then I plopped them into boiling and salted water for just two or three minutes. Finally, zip them under the faucet under cold water to halt the cooking and keep them bright green.

Finally, to make the dressing. Basically, I just whisk all the ingredients together. The hardest part is you may not have all of these in your cupboards. Once you purchase all the items you'll use them over and over again to achieve the wonderful and balanced flavors this dressing creates.

Rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, grated ginger, garlic = dressing. Easy, peasy.

Now it's time to toss it together it all together.

Ta da!

This salad was so good. I passed out it was so good. Joel had two bowls. You have to give it a try! 

After the recipe I will connect the link to the original recipe which includes the nutritional information. 

Toasted Barley and Green Bean with Tofu Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light

  • Tofu:
  • (12-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 5 (1-inch-thick) slices
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • garlic clove, grated
  • Cooking spray
  • Salad:
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 5 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 10 ounce large shiitake your choice mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green onions (I didn't have any and omitted this ingredient) 
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • garlic clove, minced


Preheat the oven to 375. Next preparing the tofu it is important to press the water out of the tofu. Slice the tofu into 5 even sections. Place between paper towels and top with a cutting board with something to weigh it down I used a large sugar container. It takes about 45 minutes and I needed to change out the paper towels because they became so water soaked. 

Mix the brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a bowl.  Cut the tofu slices into 10 cubes each. Toss in liquid mixture. The best way to coat the tofu is by storing in zip lock bag for 30 minutes. Don't rush this step as I was tempted to do, the flavor is worth the wait. After it's had time to marinade place on baking sheet lined with tin foil and nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 35 minutes. 

Move on to preparing the salad. The first step is to toast the barley. Using a sauce pot over medium-high heat measure 1 teaspoon oil in pot and toss in barley. Toast for 3-4 minutes. Pour water into pot. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. 

Prepare the green beans. Cut off tops and slice into thirds then rinse. Blanche the green beans - dump in boiling water for 3 minutes and then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside. 

To prepare the mushrooms first wipe the tops with a wet paper towel. Do not over wash just dust off the dirt. Slice the mushrooms and toss into pan with nonstick cooking spray and lightly salted. Lightly saute until slightly cooked through. Over cooking with create too-soft mushrooms. Don't do this. 

Mix the ingredients for dressing: 1 tablespoon oil, rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, honey, grated ginger and garlic and whisk together. 

Toss barley, green beans, tofu, and dressing into large bowl. Enjoy this warm, room temperature, or cooled. 



  1. YUM! This looks so good! And what great step by step instructions!

    Thanks so much for linking up to Tuesday Talent Show! I would love to have you stop by and link up again with more great projects!

  2. Oh, I like this one! I am trying to go Vegetarian for my health, and this sounds very healthy.....and yummy! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for stopping by!

    I hope you like it - I know I really enjoyed this. Let me know how it goes! :)