14 Jun 2015

roast veg + barley warm salad

I was in Sydney recently, and the best meals I had were, incredibly, from the mega food courts beneath the bustling CBD, which are packed full of every conceivable cuisine and quick meal you would want to eat. I loved this takeaway so much that I went back and had it again and again; I dissected the ingredients and flavours, and decided I had to make it at home.

This is what it was - one of my favourite dishes - a chunky, substantial, vegie-filled salad. There were sticks of carrot and wedges of red onion, roasted til tender and flavoured with warm spices; I could detect cumin. There was pearl barley, and this was the big surprise for me, because I think of barley as an ingredient for soup, not salad. I loved it in this incarnation. These were all tossed with lots of leafy fresh greens, beautifully dressed, and finished with dabs of creamy-salty fetta. It was filling and light at the same time.

This being Hobart in the wintertime though, where we've already had frosts and days where temperatures have barely scraped into the double digits, a cold salad was not going to be on the menu. I need hot food!

So I mixed it up a bit. I roasted a large tray of carrots and a delicious ironbark pumpkin (both from dad) plus some stalks from a broccoli I had in the fridge. I drizzled these with oil and dusted them with a Moroccan spice mix I bought back from a Sydney spice shop. I omitted the red onion simply because ... I forgot to buy one. Next time! I roasted these on a slower than usual temperature (160) and they came out flavoursome and tender.

Meanwhile I cooked a cup of pearl barley in my rice cooker. This stuff is so good - I have found a new favourite wholegrain; it now has a prime location in my pantry alongside the brown rice and quinoas.

Then instead of salad greens, I shredded and lightly steamed a big bunch of silverbeet (again from my parents).

Then I tumbled all these cooked ingredients together, dressed the big bowl of colour simply with olive oil and lemon juice, daubed the dish with some Danish fetta, and added my own flourish, a sprinkling of crunchy black sesame seeds.

I'm sorry I forgot to take a pic of the final dish. But trust me, it made for a wonderful week of working lunches, back here in Hobart! A delicious winter version of the Sydney original. It ticks so many boxes: effortless to make, full of flavour and so healthy. I know it will definitely be a regular in my repertoire now.

18 comments:

  1. This sounds like a delicious mix of vegetables! Doesn't sound like mega food court food at all! I love barley too...and the addition of feta is a winner for me. Well done on re-creating this dish, especially with so many home grown ingredients. Happy Sunday :)

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    1. happy sunday to you too jane. you're right - it was more like café food than a food court dish; it just happened to be squished into a plastic takeaway container :-)

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  2. It sounds absolutely delicious, I'm a huge fan of barley as well. I'm intrigued by the ironbark pumpkin, I've never heard of that but it looks lovely. Well done for recreating it all. CJ xx

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    1. CJ, ironbark is a great pumpkin dad grows (mum and I tell him to grow nothing else!). great flavour, good texture that keeps its shape when steamed, but is fabulous roasted, and despite the name, the dark green skin is soft and totally edible. it's the smaller wedge on the left in the photo.

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    1. it definitely was daphne - a new favourite recipe!

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  4. All of my favourite things in a bowl. Beautiful flavours all combined.

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    1. thank you Hannah! nice to say hello again :-)

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  5. I love a cook who, like me, dissects meals they've enjoyed out and about and then recreates them at home, only better! This sounds fab E! xx

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    1. thank you liz! it turned out to be a valuable holiday purchase :-)

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  6. oh that does sound awesome - roasted vegetables are my favourite - funny that you said they cooked well at low temp - I always try to cook at the highest temp possible. My jap pumpkin often turns out a bit mushy - have no idea why...butternut seems to be the best one for me.

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    1. i used to blast them on 200 or so, but since lowering it to around 160, I get better results - still toffee round the edges, but not so many incinerated bits. especially for soft things like onions.
      maybe it's the type of pumpkin, the water content? these ironbarks are tremendous no matter what I do to them!

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  7. That all sounds very good - tasty and warming... and much of it home grown! We've been having some really cool days here over the last few weeks, so I might not have to wait until winter to try your warm salad idea.

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    1. GD hello you can leave a comment! :-)
      I think this would be good at any time of year. I hope you get some proper summer weather soon.

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  8. Sounds delicious. I also use freekeh for warm salads; it has enough texture to stand up to hearty veg which is generally what you need in a warm salad. I will try pearl barley though. Probably cheaper.

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    1. I've never tried freekeh, bek - it's wheat or wheat-like isn't it? maybe I should expand my grain horizons even more. but pearl barley is incredibly cheap so it's a good pantry staple for me now!

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    2. Yes, it is green (ie young) whole wheat kernels. I actually got mine for free from a company giving them out as sample packs. While they are nice they are a bit spendy, being a now fashionable "superfood."

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  9. and probably we are taking away the supplies of the peasant communities that have relied on it for thousands of years. oh dear!

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