Summer Barley Salad

This is a salad I haven’t made in quite a while and I always enjoy it, it’s another nice choice to use fresh local produce.  I had summer squash on hand but zucchini works equally well.  If you thought that barley was only used for soups; this salad will be a nice surprise.   As cereal grains go, barley has great nutritional value.  This centuries-old grain is packed with fiber, contains important vitamins and minerals, is low in fat, and because it’s
a plant product it’s cholesterol-free.  It’s one of the world’s oldest grains and  the oldest known remains of barley are recorded in Syria( 8000 BC).  It was a staple of diets across the world for many, many years and fell out of favor and became a food for peasants.  Currently it’s primary use is animal feed, it’s also used to make malt for beer and other uses come in third (that would be this salad).

1 medium eggplant
(one to 1 1/2 pounds), cut into ¾ inch cubes

1 medium summer squash or zucchini (about ¾ pound) cut into ¾
inch cubes

1 large red bell pepper cut into ¾ inch cubes

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup pearl barley

2 ½  cups vegetable broth

2 medium tomatoes cut into wedges or 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes

1 small red onion, diced

Juice of one lemon, about 1/3 cup

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

½ cup fresh mint, chopped (reserve a few leaves for garnish if desired)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Dice eggplant, squash, bell pepper and in mixing bowl toss quickly with olive oil.  The
eggplant is very porous and if you hesitate, the eggplant will suck up all the oil.  Once veggies are tossed with oil,
toss them onto a baking sheet coated   with non- stick cooking spray.   Add garlic to baking sheet and roast vegetables for 30 minutes.  Add barley
and vegetable broth to sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, turn off burner and allow
barley to sit in pan and soak up the remaining liquid in pan.  Remove roasting vegetables from pan, finely dice roasted garlic cloves.  After 15 minutes
toss barley, vegetables, and remainder of ingredients and garnish with mint leaves if desired.


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