Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

 Barley is one of those grains that too many people buy and then don't know what to do with it. Sure, there's the old standby of mushroom barley soup (or beef and barley soup) but barley really has so much going for it then playing second fiddle in a soup.

Whether you buy the pearled (white) or hulled (brown) barley, both have a chewy density that is fun to eat and a great substitute for rice. Stir in your favorite sauce - pesto of any kind, tomato sauce, harissa if you're feeling bold - and you have a bowl full of goodness that will treat your body so well!

This salad was merely a riff on the Mediterranean Caviar I have been making for years. While the veggies are not quite in season in parts of the country, the eggplant and tomatoes trucked in from south of the border feel local to me, despite the international boundary, so I ate with abandon!

Looking over the list of ingredients, you will see why this dish is dubbed "Mediterranean": lots of briney goodness from the olives to the capers and red wine vinegar. Reduce the amounts if your plate doesn't swing towards the sour, but do give it a try, it's so bright and delicious! 

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad
(serves 4-6)

1 small eggplant (globe or Italian, not Japanese)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

2 large roma or plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 cups cooked barley (cook like rice, 1-2 ration of barley to water)
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 olives - oil cured or kalamata - chopped
2 tablespoons capers, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 400. Cut end and top off of eggplant and cut into 1 inch rounds. Cut round into even triangles (quarters or sixes depending on how big the slices are) and toss with olive oil and salt and bake in a single layer for 40 minutes until brown and crisping. Remove from oven and place in bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss all well, adding more salt, pepper, lemon or oil to taste.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Quinoa Flatbread with Tabbouleh, Falafel, Feta and Pomegranate at Closet Cooking
Baked Salami Mozzarella Bites at Very Culinary
Salmon and Quinoa Patties with Lemon Yogurt Sauce at A Perfect Pantry


The Food Hunter said...

This sounds fabulous

Unknown said...

Kirsten -- even tho I am an eggplant hater :-) I do want to try this! Is there an easy way to print these recipes? Kathy Zeman -- in Minnesota :-)