Sea Bluff Spinach, Beet and Barley Salad with Salt Spring Island St. Jo Feta

The stars aligned on my salad plate this week. Silky spinach, fresh from Sea Bluff farm, made a bed for pearl barley cooked in homemade chicken stock, local beets, creamy crumbled St. Jo Feta from the Salt Spring Island cheese company and some crunchy walnuts on top. Everything was drizzled with a classic French vinaigrette and enjoyed in the sunshine on a perfect late summer’s afternoon.

Salad Ingredients:

1 lb. beets, scrubbed, greens removed leaving 1-inch stems

4 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups pearl barley

2 cups fresh spinach, cleaned and tough stems removed

4 oz. crumbled feta

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. sea salt

6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground pepper

Place beets in medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Test for doneness with fork – if they are large beets they may need a bit longer. Rinse under cool water, rubbing off skins and stems. Cut into 1/4 inch wedges. Rinse barley in fine sieve until water runs clear. Bring chicken stock to boil in a medium saucepan. Add barley, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a jar with tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until homogenized. Arrange spinach leaves on serving plate, tearing into bite sized pieces if desired. Mound cooked barley over spinach. Place beet wedges over barley, then crumbled feta and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Arrange on individual salad plates for a sit-down meal, or on a large serving platter for a buffet.

Salad may be served warm – assemble as soon as the beets and barley are cooked, and you will have slightly wilted spinach and lightly melted feta. Also delicious cold, assembled when beets and barley have cooled.

Serves 4-6.

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