I'm currently loving the interesting and different salads in Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special, and their Balkan Roasted Vegetable Salad is no exception. I wasn't sure what the marinade would taste like and I was a bit wary of the fennel seeds, but wow I cannot believe how good it smelled as the vegetables were roasting with the marinade. What a wonderful combination of flavours!
The original recipe called for double the amount of vegetables (which is why there's 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a cucumber in my version), but I halved it because I wanted to add barley to make it a more substantial meal. Feel free to double the veggies and omit the barley if that's what you'd prefer. I also added the walnuts and sunflower seeds for some delicious nutrition. I ate the salad at room temperature the first time and it was good, but when I had it the next day after it had time to sit in the fridge and the flavours had mingled, it was so much more delicious. I really loved the combination of roasted veggies with raw cucumber and tomato, plus the marinade was so good.
Balkan Roasted Vegetable Salad
(adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special)
1/2 cup raw barley (pearl or pot)
2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil*
1 to 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, trimmed and halved (quartered or cut into 8 if large)
1/2 a cucumber
1/2 cup grated feta
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Preheat the oven to 500F.
Place the barley and water in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat until most of the water has been absorbed and the barley is soft, about 40 minutes. When the barley is tender, drain it in a colander.
While the barley is cooking, combine the marinade ingredients by whirling briefly in a blender or food processor, or by whisking them in a bowl. Set aside. On a large baking pan with raised sides, spread out the sweet potato, red pepper, onions, and mushrooms and drizzle with about 1/2 of the marinade. Right on the baking tray, toss the vegetables with the marinade until evenly coated. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender and slightly browned.
While the vegetables roast, dice the tomatoes and cucumber.** Place them in a serving bowl. Add the drained barley. Drizzle with the remaining marinade and toss well. With a slotted spatula, transfer the roasted vegetables to the bowl and toss well.
Serve immediately, or at room temperature, or chilled. Top each portion with feta.
*I used freeze dried basil and I can't remember how much I put.
**The recipe suggests you peel and seed the cucumber, but I like eating the whole cucumber plus I don't want to throw good cucumber away! It's up to you what you want to do though.