Barley and Roasted Root Vegetables

If you’re ever hesitant about trying a new vegetable, roast it with tons of butter and it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll fall madly in love. At least, that was my experience with parsnips. I had never tried one until about two years ago, when Mike brought some home from the store, sliced them up, and roasted them with ungodly amounts of butter. Ever since then, I’ve been smitten.

When I saw this recipe, I immediately knew parsnips would play a major part in it, but I was also excited to try turnip and rutabaga for the first time. (The verdict? They’re good, but not as good as parsnips).

Anyway, since winter is prime root vegetable time, this is a perfect dish to make right now. The original recipe called for wheat berries, but I used barley because that’s what I had in the cupboard. I suspect it would be good with whatever whole grain you happen to like. I added some orange zest, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinegar, but there are a whole bunch of other ideas for making this on David Lebovitz’s post.

Recipe:
(adapted from David Lebovitz)

1 1/2 cups pearled barley
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
bay leaf
2 lbs mixed root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga), cut into 1/2″ dice
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
zest from 1/2 an orange
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the salt, bay leaf, and barley. Simmer, partially covered, until the barley is tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until you’re ready to mix up the salad.

Toss the vegetables, onion, olive oil, thyme, a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and spread on a sheet pan. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.

Toss the barley and vegetables together in a large bowl with the balsamic, walnuts, and orange zest. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

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