Thursday, October 3, 2013

Barley, Beet, and Feta Salad

Fall is when I switch back to cooking with root veggies that come out of the earth - peppery turnips, earthy rutabaga, and one of my favorites - beets. You can make all the separate components of this dish ahead of time, and toss together just before serving, making it ideal for busy nights. It's equally yummy warm or cold, and is definitely hearty enough to be your main course.

  • 1 pound beets
  • 4 cups vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 cups trimmed arugula
  • 1/4 cup chopped and toasted walnuts*
  • 4 ounces crumbled vegan feta (such as Veg Cuisine)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
1. Trim the beets, leaving the root and 1 inch of the stem on each. Scrub with a brush and place in a saucepan; cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 35 minutes.  Drain and rinse the beets with cold water; let cool.  Trim off the roots, rub off the skins, and cut each beet into 1/4-inch wide wedges.

Note: I recommend rubbing off the skins in a colander under running water. You'll minimize the pink stains in your kitchen (and on your hands!) that way.

2. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil, and add the barley.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.


Note: Don't worry if there's a little bit of broth still in the pot after 40 minutes; the rest will absorb while the barley cools.

3. In a large bowl, combine the barley, arugula, walnuts, and feta.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the balsamic, olive oil, fennel seeds, and garlic.  Pour the vinegar mixture over the barley mixture, tossing to coat.

5. Spoon about 1 and 1/3 cups barley mixture onto each of 6 plates, and top each serving with about 1/2 cup beets.

*Toast the walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes - you'll know they're done when they smell toasty! Stir or shake the pan frequently to prevent the nuts from burning.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 and 1/3 cups barley mixture, about 1/2 cup beets), Calories 403

Tasting Notes:
Loved this - salty feta, tender barley, and peppery arugula in every bite. There was just a tad too much balsamic and garlic in the dressing, but the fennel seeds are a surprising and delicious addition. Honestly if you're pressed for time, this would be just fine without the beets. However, they do add a wonderful elegance to the presentation. I'd chop the beets into bite-sized cubes next time though, so that after plating they'll easily mix into the rest of the salad (yes, inevitably staining the whole thing pink, but at that point, it won't matter).


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