Here’s a success story in my never ending quest to find delicious and healthy grain-based salads. This Mediterranean Barley Salad from Family Style Food is loaded with veggies and has plenty of texture and flavor. From the chewy barley to the soft, sweet roasted tomatoes, to the salty, creamy feta, all of the components of this salad come together beautifully. It’s also versatile enough that you can play around with the ingredients depending what you have on hand. Prefer olives to eggplant? Go for it! Have basil but not mint? Give it a try. Served warm or cold, this easy salad packed perfectly for a nice, healthy lunch on the go.
Mediterranean barley salad (serves 4 as main dish, 8 as side)
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, diced
4 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped green onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
2 1/2 – 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water 10 minutes; drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss eggplant with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Repeat with tomatoes on a second pan. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until eggplant is golden brown and tender and tomatoes are brown and wrinkled, 20 to 25 minutes total.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer barley to baking pan with roasted tomatoes and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, about 20 minutes.
3. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add barley and tomatoes, eggplant, onion and mint to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well. Sprinkle cheese over the salad and serve.