Summer Salads with Beer Dressings

Cooking with Beer by | Aug 2015 | Issue #103

Photos by Sean Z. Paxton

Summer is a wonderful time of year for produce. With the long days and short nights, gardens pop with its colorful, flavorful bounty. To highlight these important ingredients in our diet, I’ve created two salads that can be used as building blocks. One is an Asian-style noodle salad, while the other is a toasted pearl barley salad with a Mediterranean influence. Try different farmers market buys with either recipe. Vegan and designed with nutrition and wellness in mind, both recipes are easy to make ahead for an outdoor picnic, potluck or camping retreat.

Asian Noodle Salad with Porter Peanut Miso Dressing
I love a cold noodle salad on a hot day in late summer. This recipe uses the texture of buckwheat soba noodles as a foundation, giving the dish a wonderful chew and nutty flavor, layered with crunchy bean sprouts, creamy eggplant and firm tofu. The tofu, hemp seeds, peanut butter and edamame also provide lots of protein.

Serves: 4–6 people, makes 12 ounces of dressing

Dressing Ingredients:
6 oz Porter-style beer, such as Deschutes Black Butte Porter
1/4 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth, or another nut butter, preferably organic
2 tbsp soy sauce (dark or regular)
1 tbsp miso, barley or red style
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce or another Asian-style hot sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp malt vinegar
1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp garlic, peeled and grated

In a blender, add the Porter, peanut butter, soy sauce, miso (I like three year-old barley miso, as it’s full of umami and layers of fermented flavors), Sriracha hot sauce (more if you like it spicier), sesame oil, malt vinegar, ginger and garlic. Blend on high to emulsify the ingredients into a creamy dressing. Transfer to a sealable glass jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Try this dressing as a dip for spring rolls, mix with roasted cubed eggplant, or serve with a crudité of fresh farmers market vegetables.

Salad Ingredients:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos
1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp garlic, peeled and grated
16 oz extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 bunch carrots, purple or orange, peeled and cut
1 eggplant, white or black, cubed
1/2 lb. snow peas
10 oz edamame, peeled (or frozen and thawed)
10–14 oz soba (Japanese buckwheat) noodles, dry
8 oz bean sprouts, mung or white
2–3 green onions or scallions, sliced on the bias, thin
2 tbsp hemp seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds, white and/or black, toasted
1 bunch cilantro, washed and leaves picked

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Next, fill a large stockpot with water and place over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of salt to season the water and bring it to a boil. As the water is heating, clean the snow peas; removing the stem and the string up the side. Set aside.

In a bowl, add the vegetable and sesame oils, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. If you want a little heat, add a teaspoon or two of Sriracha. Whisk the ingredients to make a marinade. Add the cubed tofu and toss to combine. Then transfer the tofu to a Silpat or parchment paper-lined sheet tray, leaving as much of the marinade in the bowl as possible. Arrange the tofu in a single layer on one side of the tray.

Next, prepare the carrots. In Japanese cuisine, each vegetable is usually cut in a different style, giving the dish more complexity and harmony. Take a carrot and cut on the bias (angle) at one end, rotating the vegetable 90 degrees between each cut. This technique is called Rangiri in Japan. Repeat this process all the way along each carrot’s length, making diamond-like wedges. Add these pieces to the marinade, coat and drain, again leaving the excess marinade behind. Add carrots to the sheet tray in an even layer. Then toss the cubed eggplant in the marinade, letting it soak up the remaining liquid. Add the eggplant to the sheet tray and roast in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the tofu and eggplant are golden brown. Place in a large bowl.

When the water comes to a boil, blanch the snow peas for 2–3 minutes, until they turn a bright green color, but remain crisp. Strain out the peas and place into a large bowl of ice water to shock the vegetables, stopping the cooking process and helping them keep their vibrant color. Next blanch the edamame for 3–4 minutes, and add to the ice water bath. Then add in the soba noodles and cook, following the package instructions, usually 5–6 minutes. The noodles should be al dente with minimal chew.

Drain the noodles in a colander and transfer to the ice water. Once fully chilled, drain the snow peas, edamame and noodles and add them to the bowl of roasted tofu and vegetables. Add the bean sprouts, green onions, hemp and sesame seeds and cilantro leaves. Dress the noodles with Porter Peanut Miso Dressing and toss to coat everything. To serve, garnish with more sesame seeds, green onion slices, bean sprouts and cilantro.

Beer Pairing:
Pair this noodle salad with a Saison, which allows the yeast’s esters to explode with the spicy undertones of this dish, while the creamy peanut butter blends with the beer’s Belgian tang.


Toasted Pearl Barley Salad
This grain salad offers so many possibilities: use it as a side dish, a wrap filling or serve as a large entrée. Toast and cook the pearl barley in the orange scented Brown Ale base, then add seasonal vegetables that are roasted, blanched or grilled, to incorporate different textures and flavors.

Serves: 4 as an entrée

2 cup pearl barley
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1 orange zest, Cara Cara navel or blood orange
12 oz water
24 oz Brown Ale, such as Big Sky’s Moose Drool Brown Ale
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled and sliced
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup Italian leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
1/2 lb. green beans, cleaned and blanched
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, shelled and toasted
1 bunch basil, stems removed and large leaves torn (optional)
1 bunch oregano, leaves only (optional)
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
2 tbsp flax seeds (optional)
1/4 cup orange juice, Cara Cara navel or blood orange
1/4 cup extra virgin oil
1 tsp kosher salt

In a medium-sized pan with a lid, add the pearl barley and place over medium heat. Using a flat-edged spatula, stir the barley periodically, toasting it slowly for about 5 minutes. Then add the salt, bay leaves and orange zest, stirring to combine and lightly toast the zest. Add the water and then the beer (reserving 4 ounces for the dressing). Bring the barley to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 35–40 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the grain is tender. Turn off the heat and let the grains cool to room temperature.

As the grains are cooking, prepare the roasted bell peppers, green onions, red onions, parsley and green beans and place them into a large bowl. Add the sunflower seeds, chia and flax seed (if using), then toss in the cooled pearl barley. Add the reserved 4 ounces of beer, orange juice, salt and olive oil. Mix to combine and pour over the salad. Season with cracked pepper and toss to evenly coat the salad.

Cover and transfer the dressed grain salad to a refrigerator or cooler. This will keep up to two days. Add the optional herbs when ready to serve, as they will wilt if left in the dressing longer than a few hours.

• Instead of using Brown Ale for the dressing, try a citrus-forward IPA or a Double IPA
• Try adding avocado or grilled asparagus to the salad
• Mix in fennel fronds that have been roughly chopped, along with roasted fennel slices
• If you aren’t vegan, add 1/2 cup of crumbled feta for texture and a light tang.

Beer Pairing:
A hoppy IPA, Brown Ale, or Gose will complement the herbal notes in this flavorful salad, while a beer with a malty backbone will enhance the character of the cooked grain.