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Stress-Free Thanksgiving: Roasted Vegetable Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

One of the keys to planning a stress-free Thanksgiving lies in the planning aspect. Good planning doesn’t just center around dishes that complement each other — the dishes also should make sense in terms of timing.

For instance, if you have one oven (which clearly needs to cook the turkey) and only four burners to cook on, you can’t have three dishes that need to be baked at the same time as the turkey. That just doesn’t make sense.

However, you could roast a turkey and reheat or cook an oven dish or two while the turkey is resting as long as the cooking time is less than about 30-35 minutes.

That little timing lesson was an important one I learned early on in hosting Thanksgiving for my family. Before I planned this way, I was a wreck on Thanksgiving running to get everything ready and cooked at the same time.

Stressed out much? Yes. Totally.

It was awful and I had no fun with it. Once the cooking was done and everyone seated, I would kind of collapse in a chair and not even feel like eating. Cringe.

Then things changed. I got into a flow about holidays, learning how to cook them without being reduced to a puddle of stress. Now, I aim to cook most of Thanksgiving in the day or two beforehand. There is such relief in knowing there’s little to do to be ready on Thanksgiving — that most of the dinner is already done. It makes Thanksgiving so much more peaceful too … and I can even watch the parade without feeling guilty.

This new recipe? It’s perfect for a make-ahead side dish. Hearty, with a sweet-tangy flavoring, this is high on my life of potential dishes for Thanksgiving this year. And in the meantime, it makes a really fabulous lunch.

Sweet potatoes, carrots and onions are roasted to a nice caramelization with garlic, oil and salt and pepper. Then they are mixed with cooked pearl barley.

Then you whisk together a tangy lemon vinaigrette and toss it with the vegetable/barley mixture. Heaven!

Though you could totally serve this cold, this salad is best served warm. Just heat it up a little before serving (if you make ahead, that is). Also, be warned that it takes a good hour to make (hint: make the vegetables and the barley at the same time to save on prep time). Of course, you can make this a day or two in advance — and it requires little prep, so really the long cook time is almost totally hands off.

Yield: 4 servings

Roasted Vegetable Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetable Barley Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 1 sweet potato, washed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rings
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup barley, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sweet potato, carrots, onion and garlic on a nonstick baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are tender and lightly golden.
  2. Remove the garlic and chop finely. Whisk together with the olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Toss vegetables with barley. Drizzle with lemon vinaigrette and toss again. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. This can be served hot or at room temperature.

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Friday 16th of November 2012

[...] Roasted Vegetable and Barley Salad from Sarah’s Cucina Bella Whole Wheat Stuffing Muffins (Stuffins?) from Kalyn’s Kitchen Chestnuts with Brussels Sprouts from Elana’s Pantry Caramelized Corn and Green Beans from Barbara Bakes Boozy Cranberry Sauce with Port Wine from Cookin’ Canuck Cheddar Sage Biscuits from Two Peas and Their Pod Pumpkin Butterscotch Brownies from Picky Palate [...]

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Saturday 10th of November 2012

hmmm..... I can't do barley... do you think I could make this with something else? Maybe orzo?

This absolutely sounds like something my little guy and the rest of the family will enjoy, so I'll have to see if I can tweak it!


Thursday 8th of November 2012

I love the planning aspect of Thanksgiving, it's like a well oiled machine determining what needs to happen when.

Sarah W. Caron

Thursday 8th of November 2012

Right?!? There is a lot of satisfaction when you've planned it so well that it just happens almost without thinking about it.

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