A Bike Ride in Lucca

A Bike Ride in Lucca

When I was in Italy, my roommate and I were told to visit Lucca, take the train and rent a bicycle to ride around the city.  We were thrilled about our adventure and upon arrival in Lucca, went to a local market to make a picnic lunch for ourselves.  We got water, fruit and an amazing barley salad with all the flavors of summer – cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh herbs with lemon.  After we gathered our meal and rented bikes, we set off for our epic adventure.  Thirty minutes later we made the whole loop and were back where we began.  Not exactly the strenuous ride we expected, but lovely none the less.
The barley salad was worth the trip, so here, I try to recreate it as best I can.  Take this one to a park and enjoy in the sunshine – oh, and don’t forget your helmet.

You can use any type of grain you prefer – try out oat groats.  You’ll probably be able to find them in the bulk section of health food stores, such as Whole Foods.  Oat groats are the entire oat, before it’s cut into various shapes/sizes (such as steal cut).  They are chewy like barley, but have have less calories and easily digestible.

Serves 4:
1 cup dry barley – follow the cooking directions on the package
2 lemons, juiced

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 pint plum tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Rinse dried barley and set aside.  Boil 3 cups of water with 1 teaspoon salt.  Once water is boiling, add barley; cook in boiling water for 90minutes, or until barley is soft and edible.  Set a strainer over a large bowl and pour barley into strainer.  If barley has stuck to the bottom of the pot, do not scrape it out for use in the salad.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir into barley while it is strained of moisture; set in refrigeration.  Meanwhile in a large bowl, juice lemons, chop herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic.  Mix in barley, olive oil, salt and pepper

 Serve at room temperature.