See, now, this is why you want to keep a stash of roasted vegetables on hand.
The evening I made this salad, I had absolutely no idea what dinner would be. I only knew that I had a drawer full of random vegetables on the brink of spoilage. The decision to roast them: simple. And their ultimate use: also simple, especially now that Trader Joe’s has smashed a massive weeknight-cooking obstacle with their new line of par-cooked whole grains—barley, farro, and bulgur.
This barley really was tender in just over 10 minutes, rather than the usual 40 to 50. Which meant that I went from “what the heck should I make?” to “dinner’s ready!” before Harry could even muster a decent whine for a hot dog.* That night I tossed in olives for salty, briny punch, Aleppo pepper for subtle heat, and toasted pine nuts for extra crunch, but the variations are endless. And it works equally well warm, room temperature, or chilled.
You know how much I love a whole grain salad. Thanks to TJ’s and my vegetable-roasting habit, my world just exploded into a million sparkly new possibilities.
* You won’t be surprised to learn that Harry ate olives and pine nuts for dinner that night.
Roasted Vegetable Barley Salad
2 to 3 cups of roasted vegetables
3 cups cooked barley (from about 1 1/2 cups raw)
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Large handful parsley leaves
12 olives, quartered
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan
2 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Up to 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (use the full amount if you like tartness)
salt & pepper
1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, optional
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together vegetables, barley, chickpeas, and parsley.
- Put Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt & pepper, and Aleppo pepper into a small, airtight container. Close and shake well, until fully combined, then pour over salad and toss.
- Sprinkle pine nuts on top and serve.
MAKE BABY FOOD: Plain roasted vegetables are a lovely texture for new eaters—puree, mash them with a fork, or serve as finger food. If your starting finger foods, grains of barley are good practice for the pincer grip. And if your baby’s well-versed in finger foods, the whole salad is safe—chop the pine nuts to prevent any chance of choking. (You don’t necessarily have to leave out the Aleppo pepper for a baby—some little ones like spice! You know better than I what your baby can handle.)