Rescued Veg. & Balsamic Barley Salad


I’m not quite sure how the information crossed my path, but for some reason I found myself at the London Cooking Project’s The Battersea Canteen on Tuesday; a weekly meal made entirely of surplus, and supermarket ‘waste’. 

Entirely volunteer run.  We arrived.  We cooked.  We got to know each other.  We devoured a rather large portion of apple crumble (made in part by yours truly) to finish.  We scattered into the night back to our various lives.  It was lovely. 


Sometimes donated food is scant.  Sometimes it’s abundant.  Last night just so happened to be one of the latter.  And so I tube-d home with arms full of have-seen-better-days (as a friend once so acutely put it) vegetables. 


What does one do with an abundance of bruised and overripe vegetables when autumn is coming?  ROAST.  With balsamic.  Everything is better with balsamic.

Which my lovely friend Margaux of Coeliac Chef Stories – while not actually having openly admitted as such, but I nevertheless deduce – agrees with.  To a recent picnic she brought a barley, cinnamon, balsamic, raisin and almond salad.  And so the basis for my Rescued Veg. & Balsamic Barley Salad is unapologeticaly nicked from her :)  Because it is just THAT GOOD.  Few tweaks.  Few additions.  It's a little party in your mouth.


Slightly unusual (for those of us in the West), drawing from North African and Persian cuisines, it spruces up starters, sides, mains like there's no tomorrow.  And just so happens to be a bed for all the glorious bestover bruised veg. shared with us by Be Enriched.

Rescued Veg. & Balsamic Barley Salad
nibs etc. [+ Coeliac Chef Stories inspired barley] original recipe.  Serves 3-4.

Roasted seen-better-days Veg:
1 Broccoli (head + stem)
2 carrots
15-20 mini Sweet Peppers (yellow, orange and red)
2 Tomatoes
4 small-medium Red Onions – SAVE PEELS
2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

Preheat oven to 200*C (fan)/210*C/410F.  Chop to similar sizes.  Drizzle with oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat evenly.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Balsamic Barley Salad:
4 Curly Kale Branches
1 small-medium Red Onion
1/2 cup Pearl Barley
1 cup Water
Pinch Salt
Red Onion Peels + Kale Stems
3-4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Sultanas/Raisins
1/4 cup Almonds

While the vegetables cook, rinse your barley and cover with about 1 cup of water (or until the water reaches the first crease in your finger when placed just above the barley in your pan).  To the pan, add a pinch of salt, kale stems and onion peels.  Set on high heat and bring to a boil, allowing to bubble for a minute or so, before turning down the heat and covering for about 30-40 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, roughly chop your curly kale, and set aside.
When the veg and barley are ready, in a saucepan add one finely diced red onion, a tablespoon of olive oil and cook until softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.  Then add balsamic (more or less to taste, I tend to air on the ‘more’ side…), and turn heat down low. 
As the onions caramelise, carefully – it will be hot ! - remove the stems and peels from your barley, without losing any grains of barley (just give the peels a shake, it will come right off).
When the onion has started to caramelize, up the heat to medium and add the barley, cinnamon, almonds and raisins.  Once balsamic has reduced and coated all ingredients, add chopped kale, and cover with a lid until softened (2-4 minutes).
Remove lid, turn off the heat, stir through until fully wilted and all ingredients well distributed.  Serve topped with a couple tablespoons of your roasted vegetables.  Or in a jar for your new favourite autumn lunch to go.  Every day of the week.

With the addition of crumbled feta and fresh coriander.
Topped with an egg, brunch style.
As a side to oven roasted salmon and or pork chops.
Substituting: almonds with hazelnuts, roasted vegetables I used with literally any you have, pearl barley with spelt/farro or quinoa, kale with spinach...