Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Salmon and Pearl Barley with Pesto and Wild Garlic Pods

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For those of you who regularly read my recipes (hello Mum!), you’ll know I love using wild garlic. Having used all that I had access to this year, all that remained were the seed pods. Desperate to cling on to the last of this short season I made sure I had a supply of them in the fridge to use like little bombs, giving blasts of peppery garlicness to dishes.

Salmon and pesto is a simple and perfect match. Rich and dense, the fish is cut through by the aromatic basil. I’ve started to use a variety of nuts in my pesto, from pistachio to walnut, just for a little variety, and I don’t always have pine nuts in the house. So feel free to use what you fancy.

I had complaints from the boss about pearl barley, but I’m sticking with it. She likes it in soup but apparently would be happy to never have it again. And certainly not in place of a risotto. Well that’s fine. It’s another dish on the home alone menu. I happen to like the slightly chewy edge it has, and it makes a change from rice. It’s also far simpler to cook than a risotto, so when you just want to get something healthy on the table quickly this is an easy win.

Ingredients
2 salmon steaks, skin on
2 handfuls of pearl barley
A couple of tablespoons of homemade pesto
1tbsp wild garlic seed pods
Rapeseed oil, chervil and fennel fronds to serve, if you have any. If not, a few basil leaves’ll do.

Method
Salt the salmon for about twenty minutes before cooking. This sets the proteins and prevents that horribly milky-white stuff coming out when you cook the salmon. Be sure to rinse it well before cooking or there will be serious complaints.
Make your pesto, if you haven’t already. When you’ve done that, cover the barley in vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about twenty minutes, or until it’s cooked through. Drain and stir through the pesto. Add the garlic pods and check the seasoning.
Heat a sauté pan with a little olive oil and gently fry the salmon skin-side down for about four minutes. Turn it when the skin is crisp and golden. Cook for one minute then turn the heat off and leave to rest in the pan.
Divide the barley between two plates, drizzle with the oil and top with the salmon, chervil and fennel if using.

 

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