This winter salad bowl is a simple combo of a basic two-grain salad with feta and a side of roast pumpkin.
I like to combine grains in salads to add colour and texture interest. I have used pearl barley and wild rice for the two grain salad today, but you could mix up the salad by using different combinations of grains such as freekeh, quinoa, lentils or chickpeas. To speed things up, you could use canned chickpeas or lentils as one of the two grains.
Of course each of the salad and pumpkin can be made on their own and served as sides – but together they make for a substantial vegetarian main with a pop of colour.
Barley and Wild Rice Salad
- 3/4 cup pearl barley (cooked in 2 parts water)
- 1/4 cup wild rice (cooked in 200ml water)
- 100g feta (I used Danish feta)
- 1 lemon (I used the juice and zest)
- Handful of basil (or other herbs)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon vino cotto/ balsamic glaze/ balsamic vinegar
Add the pearl barley to a saucepan and pour in two parts water to each portion of pearl barley (so 1 1/2 cups). Add a dash of salt and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer with the lid off for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
For the wild rice, bring 200ml of water with a dash of salt to a boil. Add the wild rice, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the rice has a soft texture. Keep an eye on the saucepan and if the water reduces too much, top up with water if necessary. Wild rice will slightly split when cooked and expands significantly in size – this (along with the fact that wild rice is pretty pricey) is why I have only used a very small portion but you could double the portion used if you prefer a higher ratio of wild rice to barley.
Once the barley and rice are cooked, strain in a colander or sieve if necessary (though most of the water will evaporate while cooking), combine and set aside to cool.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar, shake and stir through the barley and wild rice mixture. Crumble the feta into the grains and add herbs or greens, such as rocket (arugala) to garnish.
Roast Pumpkin with Spiced Pepitas
- 1 small or 1/2 large butternut pumpkin (I had a huge pumpkin so only used half)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (or you could substitute honey, or just add a little more oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice pumpkin into thin (1 – 2 finger width slices or chunks). Arrange on a lined baking tray. Combine oil, maple syrup and ground cumin a jar or bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle over pumpkin and season with salt and pepper.
Add to the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour until the pumpkin is soft and cooked to your liking.
Spiced Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
- 2/3 cup pepitas
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (I used La Chinata brand)
- Salt and pepper
Add all ingredients to a frying pan, stir to combine, turn the heat on low and toast for a few minutes.
The pepitas will “pop” with the heat. When toasted to your liking, turn off heat and stir through cooked pumpkin.
Serve the barley and wild rice and pumpkin with pepitas in serving bowls and garnish with herbs or rocket (arugala), watercress or baby spinach.
I had a lot of leftover barley and wild rice salad, so I took some to work with me for lunch, then still had enough over to stuff into halved capsicums (or red peppers), bake in the oven and serve with a simple tomato based sauce for a week night dinner.