Family Favorite Lasagna with Basil Bechamel Sauce

It seems fitting that to debut the new FamilyStyle Food, I offer you one of our favorite family recipes.

I’ve made this lasagna over and over; for friends with new babies, family potlucks and my DinnerStyle clients alike. It’s a variation of a recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook and it never fails to please.

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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