Barley Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Chard and Pomegranate Dressing

Barley Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Chard and Pomegranate Dressing

Ingredients

Salad:

8 c.  cold water (if not making barley water, reduce water to 2 cups)

1 c.  hulled barley (pearled barley may be substituted)

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2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes

Coarse kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2½ tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 small shallot, peeled and minced

1 bunch rainbow chard, tips of stems removed, or 8 oz. baby spinach 

1 tbsp. chicken or vegetable broth or water

¼ c. crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional)

2-3 tbsp. pomegranate arils (seeds) or chopped dates, for garnish

Dressing:

1½ tbsp. sherry vinegar (may substitute red-wine vinegar)

1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses

1 tsp. honey

½ tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. dried thyme, or 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

¼ tsp. coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

Directions Salad:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat shallow baking sheet with ½  tsp. oil. 

Combine cold water and barley in a large pot. Cover pot with lid and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes, or until barley is tender. Remove lid and let mixture sit for 15 minutes to cool down.

While barley cooks, prepare the sweet potatoes and the chard or spinach.

Toss sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp. oil and sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking pan; bake for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and somewhat charred or caramelized.  Let potatoes cool in pan. Reserve.

Chop rainbow chard stems and coarsely chop chard leaves, if using chard.

Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in medium skillet. Add minced garlic and shallots and sauté over medium-low heat for one minute. Add chopped chard stems and continue to sauté for another minute. Add chopped chard or spinach, 1 tbsp. broth or water and stir mixture. Cover skillet and steam over medium heat for about one minute or just until greens are wilted.

To assemble:

If you used the full 8 cups of water to also make barley water, set a large bowl under a colander and strain barley. Reserve liquid for barley water. If you cooked barley in just 2 cups of water, all of the water will have been absorbed! In both instances, proceed with the recipe below.

Place barley into a large bowl and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and lemon juice; toss to combine. Gently fold in roasted sweet potatoes, and chard or spinach mixture.  Drizzle dressing (recipe below) over mixture and gently mix to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed.

Garnish barley salad with feta or goat cheese, if using, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds or dates just before serving.

Salad can be enjoyed at any temperature and can be stored in refrigerator for three days.

Dressing:

Whisk together vinegar, molasses, honey, cumin, ¼ tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper in a small bowl. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil until mixture emulsifies. Set aside.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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