My inspiration for this salad comes from having to prepare a quick, healthy meal during busy times. This dish is a complete meal with an array of delicious vegetables, herb dressing and is packed full of goodness. I always make a large quantity, the left over salad stores well and is perfect for work lunches or a quick snack. My philosophy has always been to prepare home made dishes with the freshest ingredients. During the various seasons, I always have a few vegetables in the garden and a selection of herbs which are an essential part of my cooking and I can pick when needed. Fresh herbs have healing properties and are an important part of maintaining good health. I hope that you enjoy this flavoursome and fulfilling dish.
1 fennel bulb (cut into 8 segments)
1 sweet potato (cut 2.5 cm circles & then into half and half again)
1/2 cauliflower (cut into small florets)
4 carrots (cut into 2.5 cm widths)
2 parsnips (cut into 2.5 cm widths)
2 Spanish onions (cut into 16 segments)
1 red capsicum (cut into 5 x 2 cm pieces)
1 cup pearl barley
700 ml home made or good quality vegetable stock
juice of 1 lemon
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 sage leaves
1 clove garlic
3 sprigs parsley
fennel leaves from the bulb
1 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves
2 teaspoons of tahini
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people (approximately)
Preheat the oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Line two large flat trays with baking paper.
Rinse and wash the pearl barley. Place in a pot and add vegetable stock to cover the barley about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley is soft and split open. By the end of the cooking the stock should all be absorbed and you will be left with the grains. Allow to cool.
Thoroughly wash and clean the fennel bulb, cauliflower and red capsicum. Peel the sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, Spanish onions and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry the vegetables with a paper towel. Cut into pieces, segments as suggested.
Place the cauliflower florets, parsnips pieces, fennel segments and half the onion in one tray. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the sweet potato pieces, carrots, capsicum and the rest of the onion in the second tray. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.
Place both trays in the oven and allow to roast for 20 minutes before checking. Check that the vegetables are cooking and browning evenly. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and browned on top.
To make the dressing place the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sage leaves, parsley, tahini, lemon thyme, salt & pepper in a maxi mix or blender and blitz. You will be left with a lovely thick, glossy dressing.
Place all the roasted vegetables in a large bowl, add the pearl barley, drizzle the dressing over the top, reserving a little of the dressing . Using your hands, gently mix all the ingredients together. Select a platter or serving bowl, neatly arrange the salad and drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad.
Cut the tops of the fennel bulb and reserve the leaves and softer parts for the dressing. The tougher stems discard.
When choosing your herbs for the dressing my suggestion is, choose herbs that you enjoy eating. Parsley, basil, marjoram, sage, lemon thyme all work well in this salad. However, if you would just like to use 2 herbs feel free to do so, just remember to double your quantity.
I sometimes add a small handful of walnuts to the dressing ingredients then blitz. The addition is a nuttiness to the zesty, herb flavours.