I'm not a vegetarian anymore, but I'm sort of a maniac about making vegetable-centered meals — when I was in a touring band I ended up eating a lot of bread and cheese, so now I get really excited by new and classic combinations. Eight years ago I went to cooking school at the Natural Gourmet Institute and knew then that even if I didn't pursue a career change to the culinary arts, the worst case was I'd be a better cook at home and maybe have a backup plan to get a job if the world turned upside down and I needed to get out of the music business entirely. Now I have a full-time job and a toddler, so the best time to really experiment is on vacation. Recently we were on a trip to Tybee Island, Georgia, and got shut in one day due to an unwelcome visit from Hurricane Hermine. The upside was I had time to crank out some special dishes. They're all pretty easy but very satisfying. Give them a try!
Corn, Cucumber, Tomato, and Avocado Salad with Tarragon-Sherry Vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6
This salad is so easy and so refreshing — it's really just chop, mix, and go. It's perfect for a meal on its own or as a sharp accompaniment to something else.
2 ears grilled corn, kernels removed
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, cubed
1 ripe avocado, cubed
2 sprigs tarragon, minced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine vegetables, and set aside. In a separate, small bowl, combine tarragon and sherry vinegar, and slowly add olive oil to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. When you're ready to serve, combine vinaigrette and vegetables, and serve within 20 to 30 minutes.
Barley Salad with Green Beans, Criminis, and Scallions, with Tamari, Rice-Vinegar, and Sesame-Oil Vinaigrette
Serves 4 to 6
A few weeks ago we made a trip up to Blue Hill at Stone Barns and had a wonderful lunch in the café there. This salad was inspired by one we had that featured hen-of-the-woods, shiitake, and another kind of mushroom. This is a simpler version, using criminis, but you can certainly use any mushrooms you like.
Because barley is so sturdy, this salad is perfect for a picnic or packed lunches. Store in an airtight container, and it should stay fresh and delicious in your fridge for a few days.