This is my current favorite recipe until my next favorite recipe. The caramelized onion and creamy walnut dressing make the recipe. I know onions can be a pain to caramelize but they bring so much flavor to this humble salad. Is it a salad though? I can’t really tell what to call this… you can serve it warm… the arugula is more of an afterthought not the point of the “salad”. The subtle eggplant with the barley provide some heartiness, you have the sweet grapes, the salty feta, peppery arugula, caramelized onion and this creamy walnut dressing. Insane. I want to put the walnut dressing on everything… considering my love for tahini why am I not making other nut/seed paste based dressings? I will definitely be trying this dressing out with a kale salad.
I would highly recommend making this to bring to Easter. You could make it ahead, just toss with the dressing at the last minute since barley really loves to soak up the dressing and can dry out if it sits dressed too long. Last point, go for the crunchy grapes, they bring texture to the salad and there is something super satisfying about a crisp grape. No one wants the softs ones anyway.
- 2 small eggplants, cubed
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup barley
- 2 cup arugula
- 1 cup red grapes, halved
- 0.5 cup feta
- Olive oil
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over low heat. Add onions and sauté for 40 minutes, stirring every five minutes, until caramelized.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss eggplant with two tablespoons olive oil, salt and pep on a baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes until tender and browned, stirring once half way through if you think of it.
- Cook the one cup of barley according to package instructions in boiling salted water (bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, etc). Drain and transfer to bowl. Add eggplant and onions.
- Make the dressing: Place walnuts in blender with oil, vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard. Blend until smooth. Season with salt/pep.
- Toss barley/veggie mixture with dressing. Stir in caramelized onions, grapes, arugula and feta. The arugula will wilt a little under the warm barley which is a good thing. Serve warm or at room temp.
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