This is a surprisingly light tasting salad for having not only chewy pearl barley but roasted pumpkin. I think it’s the dressing and all the fresh spinach.
If you make extra dressing, and I suggest that you do – it pairs great with a more traditional salad, simple cold noodles, and even as a dip for chicken or shrimp. It’s delicious.
Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad
1 big wedge pumpkin or a butternut squash
2 large scallions
1/2 cup basil
2 cloves garlic
4 Tablespoons lime juice
2 green chilis
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup stock
1.5 cups water
Salt & pepper
Optional: crispy chickpeas (this is one of my favorite brands)
First, get your pumpkin and barley working.
Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.
Peel the pumpkin and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Toss with a few good glugs neutral oil and liberal sprinkles of the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
Roast 25 mins or until soft and your desired brownness is reached. I could have let mine go another 5 – 10 mins, but I was impatient so mine turned out soft and only a little browned.
Put the barley in your cooking vessel of choice with the stock and water + a liberal sprinkle of salt. If your stock doesn’t have any fat in it, a Tablespoon of olive oil is good here. Cook according to package directions. I cooked mine in a rice cooker by hitting the ‘rice’ button.
While both those are working, slice the scallions thin. Add half to your blender or food processor.
Add the spinach, basil, garlic cloves, lime juice, chilis (rough chopped and de-seeded if necessary), 5 Tablespoons olive oil, and liberal sprinkles salt and pepper. Whiz to combine, adding a few Tablespoons of water if your mixture is too dry for your appliance. I ended up adding about 3 Tablespoons.
Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if needed.
To assemble, toss the pumpkin and second half of the scallions together. Add the spinach and toss. Add the barley to the top while still warm to semi-wilt the spinach. Toss, adding the dressing halfway through.
Taste the whole mix together, adding any salt or pepper if necessary. I added a big sprinkle of finishing salt to mine. I also finished each serving with a generous sprinkle of crunchy spiced chickpeas. This salad makes an excellent chickpea delivery service. Bonus: added protein!
Makes enough to serve as a side for a party or for 4 for dinner