Friday, 22 May 2015

Scottish Barley & Smoked Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

Hang up the bunting and get ready for a party! The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours, which this year takes place on Sunday June 7th. Led by the Eden Project, funded by The Big Lottery Fund and partnered by Asda and Halifax, The Big Lunch is the perfect recipe for having fun with your neighbours, feeding community spirit and helping to build stronger neighbourhoods. In this day and age how many of us really know our neighbours? People are the key ingredient in The Big Lunch recipe with those taking part creating friendlier communities in which they start to share more, from conversation and ideas to skills and resources. Sharing food is only the beginning. 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

Neighbours, Everybody needs good neighbours

With a little understanding
You can find the perfect blend
Neighbours...should be there for one another
That's when good neighbours become good friends

Admit it. You're singing along. It might be cheesy but the catchy theme tune from down under really does encapsulate what The Big Lunch is all about. Big Lunches encourage friendlier, safer neighbourhoods and people taking part report feeling a stronger sense of community afterwards. Enjoying Big Lunch day is just the start, it’s also the planning and what can happen after that really makes the difference. That's when good neighbours become good friends.

Big Lunches can be big or small; they don’t need to cost much because everyone brings something to the table. Whether it’s a couple of homes getting together for a picnic or a full blown street party it all contributes to the underlying ethos that we, as a society, are better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together. It doesn't even have to take place on the first Sunday in June. You can hold your event whenever works best for you and your community. 

I love a statistic and these ones from Big Lunch 2014 research are pretty impressive.
  • 4.83 million people took part in The Big Lunch 2014
  • 97 per cent of people who took part said they would recommend The Big Lunch to their friends
  • 84 per cent of people who took part said it made them feel better about their neighbourhood
  • 8 out of 10 people who took part have kept in touch with people they met at Big Lunches in previous years
People said the best 3 parts of their Big Lunch day in 2014 were:
  1. A great sense of community
  2. Meeting new people
  3. Enjoying good food
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

When The Big Lunch in Scotland got in touch to ask me to work with them and create a street party food recipe I immediately started thinking about the things that I'd like to make, bring and eat at such an event. I've got a real savoury tooth so immediately ruled out deserts. I wanted my recipe to be colourful, tasty, quick and easy to make and transport and be something that is easy to share in a large group. Most of all I wanted my dish to have a Scottish twist. I reckon I've pretty much covered all the bases with my Scottish Barley & Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing. Lots of fantastic Scottish produce showcased which ties in perfectly with 2015 being the Scottish Year of Food and Drink and May being Whisky Month. Slainte Mhath! 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch


250g Pearl Barley
2 Fillets Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon (approx 180g)
1 Raw Beetroot
3 Spring Onions
Small bunch of Flat leaf Parsley

2 Tbsp Scottish Whisky
1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt & Pepper

Rinse the pearl barley well under cold running water until the water runs clear.
Place the barley in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. 
Drain the barley and leave to cool or rinse with cold water to speed up the process.
Meanwhile flake the salmon fillets, peel and coarsely grate or julienne the beetroot, slice the spring onions and chop the parsley.
Combine the cooled barley with the salmon, beetroot, spring onion and parsley and mix gently.
Place dressing ingredients of oil, whisky, mustard and honey in a jam jar and season well with salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. 
Keep the salad and dressing separate until its time to serve. Mix them together at the last minute and watch the barley turn a delightful shade of pink. 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

I asked my fellow food bloggers to share their favourite salad recipes that would work well for The Big Lunch and here's what they came up with. There's so much more to salad than lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Purple Sprouting Cesar Salad by Rough Measures 
Chilli, Prawn & Pasta Salad by Fab Food 4 All
Vietnamese Duck Salad by Recipes from a Pantry
Summer Italian Pasta Salad by The Petite Cook 

I really hope I've inspired you to host your own Big Lunch. Get started by visiting to request a FREE pack or call 0845 850 8181 to speak to one of the team. The pack contains invitations, activity and recipe ideas, posters, stickers and more. Just add Neighbours and Food! 

Disclosure - This is a commissioned post and recipe for The Big Lunch. All views expressed are my own.

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  1. I didn't know about The big lunch event, I'm so pleased to have discovered this amazing initiative. I used to live in Sicily and neighbour bbqs and get-togethers are done regularly, especially during summertime :) I love your barley salad, I think it could actually work well for stuffing my next roundy zucchine :) Thanks a lot for sharing my recipes!! xxx

    1. I'm guessing the weather in Sicily makes these kind of events much easier than in the UK! I love the idea of serving salad in a zucchine and will definitely give it a go if I can track one down.

  2. Such a pretty salad - love the idea of the whisky dressing!! ;)

    1. It works so well and the dressing helps the pink from the beetroot to leech out and make it even prettier.

  3. I am sure this is going to be a hit at the big lunch party.

    1. I hope so. Its pretty much a perfect side dish and would also work well as a vegetarian dish without the salmon.

  4. Love your Salmon Salad Claire and I'm must make that dressing as I have a bottle of whiskey in the cupboard that rarely gets used! Thanks for linking to my salad:-)

    1. I'm not a whisky drinker Camilla so it only ever comes out for cooking or when my Dad is visiting!

  5. This is such a fab idea - love the neighbors theme song quote! I adore barley, this salad looks so delicious and fresh - and don't get me started on that whisky dressing!

    1. I had to include the Neighbours theme. It just encapsulates the whole ethos of The Big Lunch perfectly!

  6. Love the use of barley and salmon in the salad. It looks delicious and colourful.The big lunch is a great idea to get together with your neighbours

    1. I've been using lots of different grains in salads recently. Long gone are boring rice and pasta salads.

  7. Lovely concept! Now I really want to replicate something similar in my neighbourhood - really I do not know my neighbours as well as I would like to! love the concept of your salad espp the dressing. Thanks for linking to my recipe too!x

    1. We all have such busy lives these days and as a result many of us really don't know our neighbours at all.