Sure, summer can be about fancy tarts and savory pies and multilayered cakes. But when it really comes down to it, summer is usually about eating simply and enjoying a few beautiful ingredients at a time; about not muddling the flavors; about spending no more time than necessary in the kitchen.
I didn’t find this recipe anywhere. I just had some beautiful beets and some nutty barley and a need for some lunches throughout the week. Everything in this recipe was in my pantry, no run to the store in the oppressive heat necessary.
Ok, so this isn’t the quickest recipe ever. It requires and hour of roasting and 45 minutes of simmering. But those can happen simultaneously and you need not even watch them; just throw the beets in the oven and get the barley rolling and walk away. No attention necessary. Yes, I realize that roasting sounds like a hideous idea right now when the whole country is enveloped in this heavy, chest-pressing heat. But have you had a roasted beet? Do you know how sweet and candy-like they become? I promise you, you can hang out in front of your window unit for a few minutes for these beets. You’ll be glad you did it.
So roast your beets whole and peel them while they’re warm; chop, chop, chop. Wash your hands immediately or you’ll risk resembling a homicidal home cook for an afternoon. Boil your barley, in chicken stock if you’re fancy, or water if you’re me, and then stir in some crumbled goat cheese while it’s still warm; while it still has melting abilities. Squeeze some lemon, drizzle some olive oil, chop some scallion and some parsley. If you have red onions and walnuts, I would add those too; sadly, I didn’t have any and it was just too hot to go outside. When it’s cool, sprinkle in a bit more goat cheese and hit it with salt and pepper. Eat your candy-beets cold and be happy with what was in your pantry.
This salad keeps pretty well, but will get dry over the course of time. Be prepared to add more lemon or olive oil or even yogurt on day 2 and 3.
4 medium beets, scrubbed
1 c pearled barley, rinsed
4 oz goat cheese, divided
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 c chopped parsley
Juice from 1-2 lemons
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 400ºF
- Cut the roots and tops off your beets. Place them on aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap them in the foil, forming steam-proof packets and bake for ~45 min to 1 hr, or until tender when stabbed with a fork
- While the beets bake, boil the barley
- In a small saucepan, bring 2 1/2 c salted water to a boil. Add the rinsed barley, reduce the heat and simmer until the barley is tender and has absorbed the water, ~40 min
- Move the barley to a large bowl and, while warm, add 2 oz crumbled goat cheese, stirring to distribute and melt
- After the beets are just cool enough to touch, peel them (the skin will rub off easily) and chop into bite-sized pieces
- Add the chopped beets, scallions, parsley lemon juice, and olive oil to the barley mixture
- Allow to cool a little, then season with salt and pepper and stir in the remaining 2 oz of crumbled goat cheese