I Go Down to the Shore
by Mary Oliver
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.
Barley Salad with Asparagus & Herbs
This is the sort of thing I love eating in during this season—a big, hearty grain salad full of the best of early springtime produce, rich and creamy from the avocado and bright with lemon and lots of herbs. Think of this more as a template than anything else, and assemble something similar with whatever you have on hand. Wheat berries or brown rice would stand in nicely for the barley, and any nut or seed would be delicious here. A handful of arugula would be a welcome addition, and no one could scoff at an egg atop the whole thing.
1 cup hulled barley
3 cups water
3 stalks green garlic, sliced thinly
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut on the bias into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped soft herbs, like parsley, dill and chives
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 small avocado, sliced
1/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted
Feta, crumbled (optional)
To cook the barley, combine the barley, water and a pinch of salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer. Start checking for doneness around 40 minutes. Add more water to the pot if needed. The barley is done when it is soft but still retains some chew. If the barley is cooked but there is still water in the pot, drain in a colander. Fluff the barley, then set aside to cool while you prep the remaining ingredients.
In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm a thin layer of olive oil. Add the sliced green garlic and a pinch of salt. Sauté for several minutes, until the garlic is cooked through. Taste a piece—it should no longer be crunchy, and the garlicky bite should be softened. Add the asparagus and a splash of white wine and cook for about 1 minute more, until the liquid has cooked off and the asparagus is bright green. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked barley, green garlic and asparagus mixture, herbs, lemon juice and a long pour of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top with the sliced avocado, almonds and feta, if using.