Last Night’s Dinner: Barley Salad & Pear and Cheese Tart

by marilynk

Ok, I’m getting caught up on my October posts still, but I had to throw this one in. This really was last night’s dinner and it is an excellent example of my cooking techniques: kinda inspired and kinda haphazard. I really like both of these recipes and I’ll make both again. One is a super easy, flexible salad that I made up (kinda inspired) and the other is a slightly finicky tart that I wanted to try ’cause I had puff pastry and a pear to use up, but I was missing one of the key ingredients so I substituted and reduced the recipe without a real plan (kinda haphazard).

Barley Salad

  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/3 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3 orange bell pepper
  • handful spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard (I used The Jam Lady’s sundried tomato dijon)
  • 2 tsp basil pesto

Dice the tomato and each of the peppers and stir together with the cooked barley. Mix the mustard and basil together and stir through the salad. Stack the spinach leaves and roll up, then slice the roll so you end up with strips (this is called a chiffonade – see, I can be fancy!). Stir the spinach into the salad.

See? Super easy. I also think this salad is sort of infinitely flexible: don’t have peppers? Try carrots or celery. No spinach? Arugula or basil leaves would add a nice spicy bite. Walnuts or almonds would add nice texture and some protein.


Inspired and haphazard.

So, that was kinda inspired…and here comes the haphazard:

Pear and Cheese Tart (adapted from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen):

  • 1/2 box of frozen puff pastry (at room temperature)
  • 1 Tbs cream cheese
  • 3 Vache qui Rire cheeses
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs (I would recommend using only 1 egg for this amount)
  • 1 Tbs whipping cream
  • 1 pear peeled, cored, and sliced into 12 slices

Preheat oven to 400°F. I skipped the pastry altogether and just used a frozen puff pastry. As you can see in the photo it didn’t puff and I’m not sure why. I didn’t have the goat cheese called for in the recipe and I don’t do shopping trips for just one item. My plan was to replace the goat cheese with the cheeses that I had on hand: cream cheese and Vache qui Rire for creaminess and parmesan for flavour. Stir the cheeses and herbs together, then mix in the eggs and whipping cream.

Roll out the dough and put on a greased cookie sheet (or lined with silicone mat or parchment paper). Mark a “crust” by scoring the dough in a rectangle about 1/2″ from the edge. Now here’s where things went off the rails for me a little. The original recipe is meant to be made in a tart pan…like one that has edges. So when I tried to put the custard down first it just sort of ran everywhere. I wasn’t going to scrap the food, so I went ahead and placed the pear slices* and poured the rest of the custard over. There was definitely spillover and I wasn’t really sure what would come out of the oven, but in it went for 20 minutes. The time was good for the tart, but the spilled custard did get a bit burnt. I just cut off the spill-over and everything was good to go!

As you can see, experimenting in the kitchen is all part of the fun of cooking. Some experiments work out better than others, but even mistakes are salvageable (and are often very delicious). So if you’re missing ingredients don’t be afraid to experiment and try things out – you may invent something really great!

*Note: I did not boil my pear because it was already a bit over ripe, so it didn’t need the extra softening.


2 Comments to “Last Night’s Dinner: Barley Salad & Pear and Cheese Tart”

  1. This seriously makes me hungry even this many days later. Like om nom. Definitely shall be stealing the general idea if not the entire recipe 😀

  2. Yay! Please do and let me know what different combinations you used.

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