TENDING the TABLE

Roasted Pumpkin and Barley Salad

A teacher once told me, “We are not programmed to be afraid. We are programmed to be courageous.” Despite having heard these words many years ago, I still often lay in bed at night, my body riddled with nervous energy, trying to fall asleep. As I try to relax, I listen to a guided meditation and repeat an affirmation to myself. Now, I’m not sure if telling people my affirmation will jinx it like when you say your birthday wish out loud, so I’ll just paraphrase it for you. The jist is that I envision a future where I am strong and brave. Sometimes you need to hear something multiple times to really get it. I think that’s the case for me with this idea of being inherently courageous.

Today someone told me, “we are designed to deal with hard things.” Hearing this brought tears to my eyes. It’s been such a crappy year and more often than not I’ve felt burdened by grief, fear and anxiety. But maybe, instead of thinking of myself as overcome by these fearful thoughts and feelings I should remember that I’m on a journey and that every day I’m learning how to be stronger and braver; I’m learning how to deal with the hard things. Maybe those feelings aren’t so bad after all and I should learn to appreciate them the same way I appreciate the moments of peace. Easier said than done I suppose. Here’s to the practice of life!

This recipe was developed as part of the annual #virtualpumpkinparty. It’s a hearty salad full of textures and flavors. The barley is nutty and chewy, the pumpkin sweet and creamy, and the radicchio is crunchy and bitter.  I dressed it with a molasses maple balsamic that is perfectly sweet and sour. It’s great as a main dish or as a side. Feel free to play around and use other types of squash in place of the pumpkin if you like.

You can check out all the other pumpkin recipes here. Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin and Barley Salad

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 small pumpkin, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch wedges

1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch wedges

3 tablespoons high heat oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup red barley

1 head radicchio, torn into 2 inch pieces

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

freshly cracked black pepper

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the pumpkin wedges and onions with the oil and the salt. Roast on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20-30 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife and golden brown.

Meanwhile rinse the barley in a strainer under cold water. Place the rinsed barley in a large pot and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered for 30-40 minutes. Drain the barley and rinse again with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Add the roasted pumpkin wedges and onions, the radicchio, cilantro and pumpkin seeds to the bowl with the barley.

In a small bowl combine the olive oil, balsamic, molasses, maple syrup, and mustard. Whisk to combine until creamy. Add the dressing and several turns of freshly cracked black pepper to the bowl with the salad and toss well. Enjoy!