Cook-out Season is Here!

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, even if the weather is cool, we are all thinking of what side dish to bring to the party.  I found the perfect recipe that we made for our cookout over Fathers Day.  I found the recipe on my epicurious ap (there is always an ap isn’t there?).

It is a Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad.  I stayed true to the recipe, except for one major thing.  I  couldn’t get my hands on barley at the Trader Joes we were at in California, so we substituted.  It was the most amazing mixture, I went back and bought three bags to bring home!  It’s called Harvest Grains Blend and contains Israeli couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans and Red Quinoa.  This is a crowd favorite and vegetarian to boot!

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3/4 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

10 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper
1 C chopped green onion

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. cayenne

8 oz. pearl barley (this is where I substituted the blend)

3/4 C water

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. sugar

1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1 C. flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 C. fresh mint, chopped

Roast

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and pre-heat to 450.  Toss eggplant, and zucchini with 5 Tbsp oil, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper in bowl.  Then spread in 2 oiled large shallow baking pans (I used foil lined cookie sheets).  Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally until veggies are golden brown and tender, 20-25 minutes.  Combine veggies on one pan to cool, reserving other pan to cool your grain.

Cook the Grain

Now for this section I followed the initial directions then changed to the liquid requirements of the grain mix from TJ’s.  Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in heavy pot over moderately high heat, cook green onion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring until fragrant, about one minute.  Add grain and cook stirring until well coated, about 2 minutes.  Then add your liquids per the package requirements and cook until done.  Once cooked (for the grain mix 15 minutes, for barley about 20 minutes), spread grain on other cookie sheet to cool.

Dressing

Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 3 Tbsp oil in a large bowl.  Add grain, roasted veggies, and remaining ingredients and toss until well combined.  Serve at room temp.

It held up great in the fridge and was perfect for leftovers too!  This was a vegetarian dish that I got my dad to enjoy, and that proves to me that it’s perfect for all.  But if you’re skeptical, I’m sure it would also be great for you carnivores out there with some diced roasted chicken.  I hope the cook-out season brings you lots of tasty treats!

~Amy

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