|Roasted Sweet Potato, Pear & Barley Salad|
Sometimes good things come in small packages. Sometimes through the mail slot. My Feb/Mar 2015 issue of Fine Cooking arrived with thunk and clunk through the mail slot last Friday, which meant I spent the evening flipping through the pages, dreaming of my next meal.
Our refrigerator was nearly empty, containing the last bits and spoonfuls and leaves from grocery shopping done days ago. But, with proper inspiration, you can make something from nearly nothing…and p.46 brought just the inspiration I was looking for: ‘hearty roast vegetable salads‘ was the title of the article, and called for a pile of mixed greens, caramelized fruits and vegatables, a warm vinaigrette, and any other toppings that might suit a person’s fancy: nuts, dried fruit, cheese.
I pulled every available item out of the fridge and made inventory: one pear just shy of expiration. 1/2 of a sweet potato. A few leaves of kale. Several Brussels sprouts. An onion half. Mustard. A lemon. A knob of ginger. Yes, this could definitely be dinner.
I followed the instructions for roasting the fruit and veg, slicing the pear and sweet potato into pieces, tossing with olive oil and a little salt, and put them to roast in a hot oven. I shredded the kale and sprouts, made a modified version of the lemon-ginger vinaigrette from p. 49, and on a whim, set a pot of pearl barley to cook on the stovetop.
If ever there was a winter salad that everyone should add to their menus, this is it. You can, of course, feel free to swap other winter vegetables and fruits for the ones I chose; select a different variety of greens; add nuts if you please, or cheese, as suggested by the article’s author, Susie Middleton. Buy the magazine. Take a look. And consider adding whole grains, as I did, for the perfect and complete meal.
Roasted Sweet Potato, Pear & Barley Salad
inspired by and adapted from Fine Cooking Feb/Mar 2014 issue
1/2 sweet potato, washed, peel left on, cut into sticks.
1 pear, washed, peel left on, core removed, cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine the sweet potato, pear, olive oil and salt and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 450°F/225°C oven for 20-25 minutes, until the potato and pear are tender and slightly browned. Remove from oven.
Cook the pearl barley:
1/2 cup pearl barley
1.5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine the barley, water and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer; cover, and allow to cook for 15 – 20 minutes until tender. Drain, and set aside.
Note: please make sure you are using pearl barley as regular barley takes much longer to cook. If you prefer to use regular barley grains, make sure you allow for a 50 minute cooking time.
Prepare the dressing:
1/2 onion, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup or liquid honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, reduce temperature to medium, and allow the onion to simmer until it is very soft, about 7 minutes. While the onion cooks, combine the remaining ingredients except for the ginger in a small bowl and whisk well to combine.
Once the onion is soft, add the ginger, stirring well to combine for another 15 seconds to heat the ginger, but not cook it. Remove from heat and spoon the onion mixture into the vinegar mixture. Stir well to combine.
Prepare the salad leaves:
4 large kale leaves, rib removed and sliced thinly
8 Brussels sprouts, shredded
Combine the kale and Brussels sprouts in a bowl. Pour the warm dressing over the top and smash the salad greens together with your fingers to tenderize them slightly. Set the salad aside until the sweet potatoes and pear are roasted and the barley is cooked.
Assemble the salad:
Add the drained, hot barley and the roasted sweet potato and pear to the bowl containing the salad leaves and dressing. Using your fingers, toss well to make sure that all salad ingredients are lightly coated with the dressing. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.