I think this is a record - the first four days in May have all provided actual sunshine in Portland. Actual sunshine!! It's amazing how the general mood in this city lifts when it stops raining. It's cloudy now, of course, but those four days were pretty darn nice.
This is not the first beet salad I've made, and it certainly won't be the last. This one is a little different, though, with a citrusy-shallot vinaigrette and a little kick from some pepperoncini peppers. Pepperoncinis are my new favorite thing - I've been putting them in everything from pizza to stirfry.
Makes 4 main dish servings
1 1/3 cup hulled barley
2 golden beets
Half a head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
Pepperoncini peppers, as many as desired
Sunflower seeds (optional)
Zest and juice of half an orange
Zest and juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 medium shallot, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the barley and place in a medium pot with about 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until barley is tender but still chewy. Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.
Wash and trim the beets. but don't peel them. Drizzle each beet with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then wrap each beet in foil. Roast in a preheated 375 degree oven for about an hour or until easily pierced with a knife. Set aside until cool, then peel the beets and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Make the dressing: put all ingredients in a small jar or other sealable container and shake to combine. Pour about half of the dressing over the barley and mix well.
In the refrigerator, keep the barley, beets and cabbage in separate containers. Each night (or in the morning) put a serving of each component in a lunch container, then top with crumbled feta, pepperoncinis and sunflower seeds. Drizzle with a little extra dressing before serving.