I’ve been a little bit in love with beets lately. Soups, salads, sides, your name it! Hence this roasted golden beet and barley salad. I’m all for red beets, but really the beauty of golden beets or even candy cane beets is — no stains, NO MESS! And I can’t believe there hasn’t been a rise in their popularity. Have you ever seen anything other than standard red beets at the supermarket? If at all. So a golden beet salad really relies on a trip to my local farmer’s market. Which thankfully is just a mere 5 minute walk down the road. Actually, the beauty of Hamburg is that it’s littered with farmer’s markets. Just hop on your bike, you can visit one any given day of the week.
Barley in a salad? Yes! I love grain salads. And barley is way sexier than you could imagine. It has a wholesome nutty flavor and adds a nice texture and heartiness to salads, something I think we can all welcome when it comes to winter salads. The beauty of pearl barley (or even polished spelt) is that they cook up relatively quick compared to full grain hulled versions, with the bonus that they still retains many vital nutrients making them a healthier alternative to rice, and most definitely pasta. And grain salads are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet!
Roasted Golden Beet and Barley Salad
For the salad:
- 2 small to medium-sized golden beets, trimmed and scrubbed clean
- 1 cup uncooked pearl barley, (220 g)
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (50 g)
- 1 small fennel bulb, quartered, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- freshly ground red pepper flakes, optional
For the dressing:
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 430°F / 220°C. Loosely wrap the beets in foil and roast them in the oven until they are just fork tender, about 45-60 minutes (depending on size). Let cool enough to handle, then peel and dice the beets into cubes.
TIP: To peel the beets, just hold one of the beets in a paper towel and use the edges of the paper towel to rub the skin away – so easy!
Meanwhile, cook the barley according to package instructions. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups (750 ml) of salted water to a boil. Add the barley and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is al dente. If liquid remains, drain the barley in a colander (or use the lid of the pot to strain off any excess moisture). Set aside.
While the beets and barley cook, roast the hazelnuts. In a dry large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts, stirring them to color evenly, until the skins brown in places and begin to split and flake, about 10 minutes. Transfer the nuts into a clean kitchen towel and roll the towel around them. Rub the nuts against one another inside the towel to remove the skins (some bits of skin will remain). Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and chop coarsely.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the barley to a serving bowl, along with the beets, fennel, fresh herbs and hazelnuts. Add the dressing and toss to combine.
If desired, season this golden beet and barley salad with red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
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