Mediterranean Barley Salad with Roasted Eggplant

A hearty salad full of Mediterranean flavor

This salad recipe is one of those that gets passed around from friends to potlucks and back again - a keeper. I first made it to bring to a picnic dinner at my neighbor B's house last Labor Day. I think it went over well; she's made it multiple times since then and is doing her best to spread the love around the neighborhood. She's good at that.

The basic recipe came out of this one from Gourmet.

I omitted the zucchini and olives from the original (I'm not a fan of either) and substituted cherry tomatoes, which lend their own sweet roasty, juices to the tender eggplant and toothsome barley. This is easily made vegetarian-friendly by using vegetable broth or water instead of chicken broth.

Make it once and pass it around...

Mediterranean Barley Salad with Roasted Eggplant
makes 8 side-dish servings

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, diced
4 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped green onion
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, soaked in cold water 10 minutes; drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss eggplant with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Repeat with tomatoes on a second pan. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until eggplant is golden brown and tender and tomatoes are brown and wrinkled, 20 to 25 minutes total.

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 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 barley to baking pan with roasted tomatoes and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, about 20 minutes.

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 and tomatoes, eggplant, onion and mint to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.

Sprinkle cheese over the salad and serve.

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

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swirlingnotions said...

This looks fantastic! And I have eggplant in the garden and barley in my pantry, so perfect timing too.

Thanks for stopping by swirlingnotions, Karen!

Kalyn said...

Love, love the sound of this. Saving the recipe right now.

Valli said...

I love all of the Mediterranean flavours in the barley salad. I am always looking for new salads, so, this is definetely a keeper!!

Alanna said...

Very nice - love all the spices!

Liza said...

I am going to make this this weekend. YUM. All my favorite flavors in one place (and the cherry tomatoes are still really good here).

Karen said...

Swirlingnotions - great! Enjoy your homegrown eggplant -- lucky dog.

Kalyn, I hope you'll like this.

Valli, I'm a big fan of these flavors too.

Alanna, thanks. The spices make this dish.

Liza, you will love it!

Susan said...

I know I've written notes like this before, but I swear it's the truth: I just made almost this identical dish two days ago. Except I made mine with bulgur wheat instead of barley and added sun-dried tomatoes and olives. So, you know I love this dish!

R2K said...

: )

Dani Spies said...

This is now on my "must try" list!! Thanks for another great idea!

Deborah Dowd said...

We are recent converts to eggplant and this recipe sounds like a terrific way to serve it. Can't wait to give his a try!

Kristen said...

I love how this looks and I bet it tastes great!

Lori said...

I have made this three times already. I love it. The nutty barley is wonderful. It holds all of it so well.