1 cup (7½ ounces) medium pearl barley, not quick-cook
3 cups vegetable stock
4 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
7 ounces baby spinach (8 cups)
¼ cup basil leaves, torn
3 tablespoons chopped mint
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
7 ounces firm tofu, drained, pressed and crumbled
In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, stock, thyme and half of the garlic. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the barley is tender, 40-50 minutes. Discard the thyme. Drain the barley and transfer to a large bowl; cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat ½ tablespoon oil. Add the shallots and season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Scrape the shallots mushrooms into the barley and toss. Add the spinach, basil and mint, but do not stir.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the remaining garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until heated through. Stir in the tofu and season with salt and pepper. Scrape the dressing over the salad and toss. Serve warm.
Adapted from "A Top Chef's Weight-Loss Secrets" by Lee Ann Wong (Food and Wine 2009)