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Pearled Barley and Beet Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

8 Jan

This is a very hearty grain salad that can be made in advance.  I was originally going to make this salad with farro, but the pearled barley, which I had never worked with before, worked very well.  Barley has lots of nutritional benefits that make it a great substitute for white rice or pastas.  This salad was filling and fresh, and the flavors really popped.  The sweetness of the roasted beets paired perfectly with the brightness of the lemon, bite of the balsamic vinegar, and slight spice of the raw garlic.  I will definitely making this dish, or variations on it, again in the very near future.

Pearled Barley and Beet Salad with Balsamic Vinegar

1 cup pearled barley, rinsed

3 cups homemade vegetable broth

1 medium beet, scrubbed clean

4-5 baby turnips, scrubbed clean

1 tomato, seeded and roughly chopped

3 tbs. cilantro, roughly chopped

3 tbs. curly leaf parsley, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/2 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375º.

Roll out two large sheets of tinfoil (about six inches long) and place them on top of one another.  Place beet on center of sheet and drizzle twith 1 tbs. of olive oil, making sure beet is evenly coated.  Create a tinfoil packet for the beets by folding the top layer of tinfoil lengthwise, folding the edges over, and crimping.  Repeat with the bottom layer of tinfoil.  Just in case, place on a baking sheet to catch drippings.  Place beet package in oven and roast roughly one hour.  When cooked, a knife will be easily inserted into the largest part of the beet.

Repeat the same process with the baby turnips (they can all be placed in one tinfoil packet).

Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add pearled barley and reduce heat to a maintain a steady simmer.  Simmer for 45 minutes until pearled barley is cooked through.

When beet is fully cooked, remove tinfoil packet from oven and carefully open (there will be steam, so watch out).  Pour olive oil, which should be infused with a lovely red from the beet into a small mixing bowl and set aside.  Once cool enough to handle, slip off skin of beet.  Dice into 1/2″ cube.  You may want to use a pair of latex gloves so as not to stain your fingers.

Quarter the baby turnips.

Add garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to reserved beet juice.  Whisk together.

Toss together pearled barley, roasted beets, roasted turnips, tomato, cilantro, curly leaf parsley.  Add olive oil/vinegar mixture to salad and toss thoroughly to combine.  Place in refrigerator and let chill at least one hour.

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