Monday, June 23, 2008

A couple of refreshing dishes...

Over the weekend, I made a side dish for one of our meals that I didn't get a chance to talk about. In the original recipe for this Sugar Snap Pea and Barley Salad dish, it called for using a quick-cooking barley to speed up the process.

However, since I had some extra time, I went ahead and prepared pearl barley instead - this took about 45 minutes or so compared to the 10 to 15 minutes that the other variety cooks in. If you opt for the faster grain, reduce the liquid to 2 cups in total. Once tender, we briefly rinse the barley to cool it down - we tossed the plumped grain with matchstick-cut pieces of crisp sugar snap peas, fresh parsley, a little red onion for bite and lemon juice. I went ahead and stashed the salad in the refrigerator for a couple hours so the flavors would have a chance to marry, but this is not completely necessary. I did find though, that the flavor and texture improved after that chilly stint in the fridge. Bright and definitely refreshing on a warm spring or summer day, this is one of those sides that I'll keep handy when we want to take a trip to the zoo or the park for a picnic.

Keeping that refreshing and light theme going, tonight's dinner, Pork Tacos with Corn-Jicama Salsa and Guacamole really hit the spot this evening. I know the recipe reads a little long or daunting at first, but with a bit of prep work, it actually came together in a snap!

Have you worked with jicama before? It is one of those ingredients we like, but don't use nearly often enough. The flavor it somewhat sweet and juicy like an apple, but the texture is more reminiscent of a potato of all things. A little odd at first, but it really grew on us - we sometimes enjoy it as a snack by itself with a squirt of lime juice and a sprinkling of chili powder! The salsa for these tacos is a crunchy combination of corn kernels, diced jicama, black beans, fresh citrus-y cilantro, lime juice and a dash of cumin. Prepare this first and keep it in the fridge to marinate while you prepare the rest.

The guacamole couldn't be simpler for this dish - we mashed creamy avocado cubes with tangy lime juice and salt. I know not everyone likes tomatoes in their guac, but their fresh juiciness is a nice touch here. If I would have thought ahead, we both thought that just a little minced serrano chile would have been good for a touch of heat. Once this is prepared, be sure to cover it with a piece of saran wrap placed directly on top of the mixture to prevent any oxidation (browning).

Tender pork is sliced into thin strips and tossed with a seasoning blend consisting of chili powder, oregano and cumin. As the tenderloin strips are quite lean and thin, cooking them will only take a couple minutes so keep an eye on them. Served and assembled on warmed white corn tortillas, the combination of cool guacamole, spiced pork and the crunchy salsa was invigorating, fresh and inviting. So inviting that there is sadly only one serving left after Jeff and I couldn't stop ourselves from splitting the other one! Stuffed much? Yes, but quite content!


  1. I think I could sell those pork tacos to the guys. Looks good.

  2. I just bought what little I needed for the snap pea dish. I'm curious, is there an easy/quick way to matchstick those, or did you just slowly do it all by hand?

  3. Helene - Thanks!

    Justin - Just me and a knife... I'm not sure there would be a faster way as those buggers are pretty small.

  4. Jicima is one of my favorites--I will have to make that salsa very soon! And they had fresh local snap peas at the Minneapolis farmers market last weekend, so that salad sounds like a great way to use them.


  5. I love your unique recipes! The salsa sounds really good -- a way to use jicama, which I agree none of us uses enough. I also like the idea of making a taco with pork tenderloin.

  6. Courtney - which FM do you go to?

    Judy - Let us know if you try either recipe!

  7. Mmm. I love grain salads. Great picture too.

  8. I made both dishes the day after you posted and also posted the barley-pea recipe on

    great finds for both!!! Thank you!

  9. Gemma - Thanks!

    Kristi - Fantastic! I'm glad you gave them a try!

  10. We tried this dish last week and really did enjoy it, although it seemed to be lacking something.

    When we had the leftovers, my better half suggested adding olives. I grabbed a jar of pitted black Greek olives, and WOW did that add a lot to the dish!

    Thanks for the good dish idea!

  11. Justin - I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for the tip on the olives! I'll note that down.