Portable Eggplant Barley Salad

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August 24, 2011

This portable eggplant barley salad is perfect for your Labor Day picnic.  Delicate pearls of barley are cooked with fragrant spices like cumin and coriander.  The barley is then mixed with roasted vegetables, including eggplant, and tossed is a citrus vinaigrette.  You can transport this salad in a large tupperware container or divide the salad into individual portions by serving it in mason jars.  Either way, this eggplant barley salad is a "must-have" dish at your Labor Day celebration.

Eggplant Barley Salad

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into ½- inch cubes
3/4 pound zucchini, cut into ½- inch cubes
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound tomatoes
cup olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
 
Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 425°F.
 
Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled baking pans.
 
Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
 
Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.
 
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 water 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 to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, 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, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.

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