Balkan Roasted Vegetable Salad
1/2 cup raw barley (pearl or pot)
2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil*
1 to 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, trimmed and halved (quartered or cut into 8 if large)
1/2 a cucumber
1/2 cup grated feta
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Preheat the oven to 500F.
Place the barley and water in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat until most of the water has been absorbed and the barley is soft, about 40 minutes. When the barley is tender, drain it in a colander.
While the barley is cooking, combine the marinade ingredients by whirling briefly in a blender or food processor, or by whisking them in a bowl. Set aside. On a large baking pan with raised sides, spread out the sweet potato, red pepper, onions, and mushrooms and drizzle with about 1/2 of the marinade. Right on the baking tray, toss the vegetables with the marinade until evenly coated. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender and slightly browned.
While the vegetables roast, dice the tomatoes and cucumber.** Place them in a serving bowl. Add the drained barley. Drizzle with the remaining marinade and toss well. With a slotted spatula, transfer the roasted vegetables to the bowl and toss well.
Serve immediately, or at room temperature, or chilled. Top each portion with feta.