Barley Sweet Potato Salad

Barley Sweet Potato Salad

For the Barley:
1 ½ cups pearled barley, rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can chicken stock
2 cups cold water
1 bay leaf
Pinch of salt

For the Sweet Potatoes:
2 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin (more, if desired)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

For the Dressing:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons cranberry juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Other Salad Ingredients:
3 green onions, green part only, small diced (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup baby spinach leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly grease with cooking spray).

In a medium sauce pot, add the barley, chicken stock, water and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer gently until nearly all the water has been absorbed, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover and let barley cool at room temperature; use a fork to fluff and separate the grains as they cool.

While the barley is cooking, toss the diced sweet potatoes in a large bowl with the olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper until evenly coated. Place the cubes on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast at 400 degrees until fork-tender and the edges are just starting to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, use a whisk to combine the oils, vinegar, cranberry juice and mustard until well combined and emulsified. Add the salt and pepper and whisk to incorporate. Taste and adjust ingredients and seasoning as desired; set aside.

In the bowl with the barley, add the roasted sweet potatoes, green onions, toasted almonds, bleu cheese, cranberries and spinach. Toss to evenly distribute.

Pour half of the dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat, then repeat with the remaining half until fully combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

For best results, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld. Salad may be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Best served chilled or at room temperature, but may also be warmed in the microwave if desired.