Eat Your Veggies (and your Grains)!

Well I had to do some major shopping they other day. I was out of just about everything not just my fridge staples but the pantry as well. So while at the store I filled up on canned beans, canned tomatoes, grains and rice. Not to mention tons of fresh veggies. I went shopping with a friend who was completely shocked at the amount of veggies I bought, asking (more than once) “Are you guys REALLY going to eat all that before it goes bad?” To which I replied “Absolutely!” But inside I did get to wondering, will I, am I getting too much? And so, it is my goal to finish all our veggies! Which brings us to last night. I was putting away some of the pantry stuff and I realized even though I had used up most of the rice, all the bulgar and couscous, I still had an almost full container of pearl barely. Instead of opening up a new grain I decided I have to use the barley and so came a great mediterranean salad/side dish/entree that I will make over and over again!

Mediterranean Barley and Eggplant Salad

Doesn’t that look yummy and believe it or not its healthy too! I mixed in plenty of veggies and perfectly cooked barley with a nice lemony dressing. It can be a salad served at room temp or even cold or it can be served warm as a nice side dish, which is what I did and served it with a nice baked salmon fillet or serve it on its own as the main course, great for vegetarians. It takes about an hour to make and the longer it sits the better.

Here is the recipe:

1 med. eggplant (any variety) cut into small bite sized cubes

1 med-small zucchini cut into same size cubes

1 cup sliced scallions (greens and white parts)

1.5 cup pear barley

2.5 cups stock/water/mixture (I used about equal parts homemade chicken stock and water, you do what suits you)

2 teas. cumin

1 teas. coriander

1/4 teas (or to taste) cayenne

1-2 tomatoes de-seeded and cut into cubes

about a handful of roughly chopped kalamata olives or any brined olive will do

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley


olive oil

For the dressing:

juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove minced

1/4 teas. sugar

3 count or so of good extra virgin olive oil

Start by preheating oven to 425. Start the barley by heating about 2 T. of olive oil in a 6qt. stock pot, when its hot but not smoking add the scallion, cumin, coriander and cayenne. Saute for about a minute til the scallions are soft and the spices fragrant, add the barely. Stir to coat each grain and let them toast up for a 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cover for about 30-40 minutes. I check in on it at 30 a test the pearls should be tender but not mushy.

Once you get the barley going I start the eggplant so that the finish at around the same time. Dress your cubed eggplant and zucchini in about 1-2 T. olive oil and a good pinch of salt and some crack black pepper. Spread veggies on an oiled baking tray and roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

When both are done let them cool slightly. While they are still warm I assemble the salad so that the barely and warm veggies absorb all that good dressing. Mix the remaining ingredients (minus the dressing) in with the barley and veggies, stir well to combine.

Mix dressing together in a separate bowl and drizzle of barley mixture toss to coat. When ready to serve i like to sprinkle with course sea salt for an added zing of flavor.

You can serve immediately or let sit at room temp until ready to sever. You can even refrigerate and serve the next day! Serve as a main course, a warm side dish, a salad. It is very versatile and very yummy!


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