Roasted Vegetable & Barley Salad

In the spirit of the season, I’m revisiting one of my go-to recipes that makes the best of summer produce. This barley salad with roasted Mediterranean vegetables is a great choice for sharing with family and friends at picnics, potlucks or parties over the next few summer months.

I originally posted this recipe in 2007, and haven’t really changed much except to simplify and punch up the flavor a little.

Happy summer!

Roasted Vegetable & Barley Salad

Serving Size: 6 - 8 side dish servings

I like to arrange some arugula or baby spinach leaves on the bowl or platter before piling on the barley mixture.

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


  1. 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, diced
  2. 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (2 pint containers)
  3. 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  4. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  6. 1 red onion, chopped
  7. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  8. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  9. 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  10. 1 1/4 cups pearl barley
  11. 3 cups water
  12. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  13. 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  14. 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
  15. 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  16. 1/2 cup crumbled goat feta cheese
  17. Arugula or baby spinach leaves; a few handfuls


  1. Put rack in middle of oven and preheat to 425°F.
  2. Toss eggplant, tomatoes and bell pepper with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast vegetables until eggplant is golden brown and tender and tomatoes are shriveled, stirring halfway through, about 25 minutes.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil for 1 minute more. Add water and bring to a boil.
  4. 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 vegetables and spread to cool, about 20 minutes.
  5. Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, honey, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and oil; pour over the barley and vegetables along with the basil and feta; mix together, and transfer to a serving bowl or platter.
  6. I like to arrange some arugula or baby spinach leaves on the bowl or platter before piling on the barley mixture.
  7. Make ahead note: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Return to room temperature before serving.

Cool Spicy Cucumbers with Peanuts & Lime

Cucumber and lime. Just the thought of those two ingredients refreshes me. Plus they go together like …. bread and butter, gin and tonic, sugar and spice.

It’s hotter than an Inferno where I live, which is typical. We went straight from our schizophrenic spring weather to a sweltering heatwave within a week’s time. Ready or not, it’s time to let the season guide my menu cravings.

I turned to one of my favorite hot-weather flavor profiles – tart citrus; fresh, spicy chiles and cool-crunchy cucumbers. To me, that combination points in the direction of Asia and India.

I found the perfect recipe for what I had in mind with this Indian cucumber salad, Khamang Kakdi, in How to Cook Indian, one of my newest cookbooks. I think this book will become a definite favorite of mine. It’s huge, with a broad collection of easy and delicious-sounding recipes. There are no photos at all, but somehow that isn’t a problem since the information is so thorough and the design so appealing.

I love the utter simplicity of this salad. With just a few spices, a hit of citrus, toasty peanuts and a sweet exotic touch of coconut, cucumbers are transformed into something complex and unordinary.

Be warned, it’s a slightly addictive little salad.

Cool Spicy Cucumbers with Peanuts & Lime

Serving Size: serves 4


  1. 1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  2. 1 Serrano pepper or 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
  4. 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  6. 1 teaspoon sugar
  7. 2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil (or olive oil)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste


  1. Put the cucumber, chile pepper, peanuts, 2 tablespoons of the coconut, lime juice and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a small saute pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to sizzle and pop, stir in the cumin, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons coconut. Turn off the heat.
  3. Pour the mustard seed mixture over the cucumbers and toss everything together. Taste to make sure it's salty-sweet enough for your taste.


Adapted from a recipe in How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor

Candy Cane Beet Salad with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Beets taste like sugar kisses to me, with a little spoonful of dirt on top.

I like beets, love them actually. But they’ve been an acquired taste, for sure. Maybe it was my childhood associations with beets and canned vegetables.

At some point in the history of tables I’ve sat around there was a dish of soggy pickled beets sitting on one. Beets in a dish that came straight out of a can; tasting sour, sweet and a little of garden soil all at the same time.

Like that time I licked the edge of a dirty old copper penny; it tasted salty and metallic, but so mysteriously mouthwatering I was compelled to have another lick.

Beets come in deeply intense colors – magenta, orange and yellow – but Italian heirloom Chioggia beets are exceptionally drop dead gorgeous. They’re unassuming, gnarly and beet-like on the outside, striped liked sweet candy canes on the inside.

It floors me that nature could be so whimsical as to design a root vegetable in the spitting image of a Willy Wonka lollypop.

Chioggia Beets Recipe

Once they’re cooked, the colors muddy and fade, so it’s worth eating Chioggia beets raw to get full bang for your buck.

I have a Benriner spiral slicer, a handy gadget that makes lovely thin spirals out of firm-textured vegetables and fruits.You don’t need one. A good old vegetable peeler works just as well. Oxo makes my favorite basic peeler.

Any kind of beet will work for this recipe, but Chioggia beets are becoming more available at grocery stores with good produce sections as well as at farmer’s markets.

Candy Cane Beet Salad with Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Serving Size: serves 2 -4


  1. 1 pound Chioggia, orange, yellow or red beets, peeled, about 5 or 6 medium
  2. Handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 2 - 3 tablespoons best olive oil you have, or pistachio oil
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/4 cup soft, fresh goat cheese
  8. 2 tablespoons toasted chopped pistachios
  9. Fresh baby arugula and/or salad greens


  1. Shave the beets into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, mandoline slicer or spiral slicer. Toss gently on a plate or large bowl with the basil.
  2. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, sugar and salt until dissolved and blended.
  3. Toss the beets with just enough of the dressing to coat lightly; add more dressing and seasoning to taste. Top with goat cheese and pistachios. Serve over arugula or baby greens.