I’m all about eating seasonal produce, so when this romanesco was ready to be picked from my garden, I knew I wanted to build a recipe around this gorgeous vegetable. Thus, this Purple Barley Romanesco Salad was born!
Romanesco is in the brassica family, along with other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Similar in taste and texture to broccoli and cauliflower, romanesco is delicious roasted, sautéed, steamed, or even raw. But unlike broccoli or cauliflower, romanesco has an incredibly vibrant chartreuse hue and a fractal-like appearance, making it a very visually dramatic vegetable! Just looking at it puts a smile on my face. Here in California, romanesco is currently in season, so look for it at your local farmers market. If you can’t find it, don’t worry. Cauliflower would make a great substitute in this recipe.
Barley is a common grain that I’ve been eating for years, so I was excited to discover a new twist on it in the form of purple barley. Not only does this ingredient give the Purple Barley Romanesco Salad more visual interest, but it also amps up the nutrition level. The purple color comes from anthocyanins, an antioxidant which fights free radical damage and is also thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. In addition to the health benefits, I also find the texture to be a bit heartier than regular barley, making it a great choice for a grain salad.
Purple Barley Romanesco Salad is a hearty dish perfect for winter. While this dish is meant to be served warm, leftovers are equally delicious cold right out of the refrigerator.Print
A hearty salad perfect for winter, this meal beautifully combines the earthy flavors of purple barley, romanesco, and mushrooms with the salty tang of capers and sherry vinegar. With it’s dramatic color and shape, romanesco is the star of this hearty grain salad that’s equally delicious served warm or cold.
- 1 1/2 cups semi-pearled purple barley, rinsed (see note)
- 3 3/4 cups water
- 1 1/4 tsp sea salt, divided
- 1 romanesco, cut into florets
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 8 oz maitake mushrooms, torn into pieces (see note)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 3 Tbsp capers
- 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- In a medium saucepan, combine barley, water, and 1 tsp of the salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender but still chewy, about 25 minutes. Drain excess water as needed and set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the romanesco. In a large bowl, combine romanesco, 1 Tbsp of the oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Stir well to coat. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake until tender and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about another 2 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add barley, romanesco, mushrooms, celery, and capers. Stir well to combine.
- In a small bowl, add sherry vinegar and remaining 2 Tbsp oil and whisk to combine. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Add parsley and gently stir to combine.
I purchased my purple barley online, but in a pinch regular barley can be used in this recipe.
Maitake mushrooms, also known as Hen of the Woods, are a beautifully delicate mushroom with a feathery texture. Rather than slicing them, simply use your hands to gently separate them into bite-sized pieces. If you have trouble finding maitake mushrooms near you, substitute with your mushroom of choice.