Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

For those of you with a green thumb (mine is usually more of a dull black & blue), this is a great recipe to use all that bounty overflowing from your garden. It must be a challenge to use all those fresh vegetables, which are probably all maturing at the same time, before they go bad. I'm assuming this because people with gardens are always giving away their crops with a big smile that smacks of desperation. They don't want to see their harvest wasted, but if they have to eat one more zucchini, they'll lose it. So this recipe is also for the family, friends and neighbors of those gardeners...do them a solid and turn their crops into a nice, hearty vegetable salad (of course if you do, they just keep bringing you more). I guess you can always buy them a canning set for their birthday and see if they take the hint.

Makes 5-6 (main course) or 8-10 (side dish) servings

1 1/2 lb. eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
2 ½ cups (20 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
6 oz. block feta cheese, crumbled into medium chunks

Roast eggplant and zucchini:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 425° F.
Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

Cook barley:
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 water 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 to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Make dressing and assemble salad:
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, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients (except the cheese) to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well. Toss in the cheese.

Cooks' note: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Return to room temperature before serving.

barely adapted from Gourmet, September 2006
eggplant and zucchini
chopped eggplant and zucchini drizzled
with oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper
before roasting
chopping scallions
scallions and spices
adding barley
adding water and broth
cooked barley
barley cooling
dressing ingredients
dressing whisked
everything but the cheese
mixed with dressing
Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

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