Beet and Barley Salad With Date-Citrus Vinaigrette
Have fun with this early fall salad, meant for Rosh Hashana but festive throughout the season. Bitter and tart greens, like arugula, crunchy romaine and celery, pair well with shallots or red onion, dates, dried figs, a handful of multicolored olives and crisp, refreshing cucumbers. About a cup of cooked barley adds chew, but you could use lentils or chickpeas instead for more protein. If you can find them, heirloom varieties of barley add wonderful nutty complexity. Beets — used in ancient times more for the leaves than the roots — currants and green grapes lend color and sweetness, as well as a pomegranate, the symbol of fruitfulness by virtue of its many seeds. All these foods are symbolic of fertility, abundance, and prosperity in the New Year.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 2medium beets, scrubbed
- ½cup pearl barley
- Coarse kosher salt
- 1garlic clove, minced
- 2teaspoons date honey (also labeled date syrup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4handfuls of mixed slightly bitter lettuce, like chicory, arugula, romaine, Swiss chard or beet leaves, roughly torn
- 1cup fresh mixed herbs, like mint, thyme, oregano, parsley, hyssop, lovage and cilantro
- 2celery stalks, cut down the center and diced in 1/2-inch pieces
- 1to 2 Persian cucumbers, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch dice
- 2large shallots or 1/2 red onion, diced in 1/2-inch pieces (see Tip)
- 5dried figs or 4 fresh figs, quartered
- 1cup white or red grapes, or a combination, halved
- 1cup mixed pitted olives, halved
- ½cup pomegranate seeds
- ½cup crumbled feta
Step 1Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the beets individually in foil. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into bite-size pieces.
Step 2While the beets are roasting, make the barley: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the barley and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until al dente.
Step 3While the barley is cooking, make the salad dressing: Squeeze the juice from the lemon (about 2 tablespoons) into a small bowl. Add the garlic and date honey, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the olive oil and set aside.
Step 4When the barley is cooked, drain, rinse and drain again. Taste, adding more salt, if necessary, and let cool completely.
Step 5When ready to serve, use your hands to gently mix the lettuce and herbs in a large salad bowl and scatter on the barley, beets, celery, cucumbers, shallots, figs and grapes. Top with the olives, pomegranate seeds and feta, and sprinkle on the dressing. Mix at the table and serve immediately.