A Healthier Lunch: Vegetable Barley Soup and Roasted Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

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 Brian Hagiwara / Getty Images

This week's healthy weeknight menu comes from The Uptown, a gem of a seasonal restaurant on Lake George in Adirondack State Park that has attracted staff from the likes of Del Posto, Blue Hill, Gramercy Tavern, and Eleven Madison Park.

Head Chef Angie Ampil (who will be moving on to a 2-star restaurant in Spain for the off-season) chose these dishes "because they're simple, cheap, and super seasonal. They're also healthy yet hearty, and they store really well. People loved both dishes at the restaurant. The General Manager ate the squash salad every day for a week and still wanted more. Ha!"


Heat the oven as soon as you can, and prep the salad while the barley is simmering, and you’ll have this ready in an hour. There will be a ton of salad left over, and it really is even better the next day.

Vegetable Barley Soup and Roasted Squash Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Serves 4, with leftovers

Time: 1 hour

Vegetable barley soup

Ingredients  

  • 2 cups pearl barley
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 lbs mushrooms (cremini, portobello, shitake, or just button), stems and caps separated, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bunches of kale, leaves and stems separated, roughly chopped
  • 3 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch thyme, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp vinegar, preferably sherry
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • parmesan cheese, grated 

Directions  

  1. Place the barley in a deep pot. Add 4 cups of cold water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring the water up to a boil and then immediately lower to a simmer. Let the barley simmer, uncovered, for about 20–30 minutes. Taste the barley as it’s cooking to check for doneness. It should be tender but still have some integrity. When the barley is cooked, strain out the excess liquid.
  2. Heat up oil in a large pan. Sauté the mushrooms until they are dry and a little crispy; work in batches if you have to so they don’t just steam in their own liquid.
  3. Toss the carrots in a bowl with oil and salt. Using the same pan, sauté the carrots until slightly tender. Set aside.
  4. Heat more oil in the same pan and add the kale. Cook until it wilts down. Season with salt and a splash of vinegar.
  5. Heat up oil in a large pot. Add the onions and a little salt, and sauté until golden brown. Constantly stir the onions so they don't burn. Add the garlic and cook until softened. Add the thyme and cook for another minute. Then add the white wine and reduce until almost dry. Add the chicken stock, cooked mushrooms, carrots, and kale. Let the soup simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Add the barley and heat through.
  6. Check and adjust the seasoning. Serve the soup with grated Parmesan.

Roasted Squash and Carrot Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Ingredients  

  • 6 delicata squash, halved lengthwise (no need to peel)
  • olive oil for roasting, plus 1/2 cup for the dressing
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 small carrots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped

Directions  

  1. Preheat your oven to 400º. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, cayenne, and cumin and set aside.
  2. Scoop out the seeds of the delicata squash with a spoon, then cut them into 1/2 inch slices. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and some of the spice mixture. Spread them evenly in one layer on a baking sheet. Do the same with the sliced baby carrots, and put them on a different tray. Roast the squash and the carrots until they are tender, about 20–25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, honey, and apple cider vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. When the squash and carrots have cooled down, mix them together in a large bowl and slowly add the dressing (you may not need all of it). Add the pine nuts and chopped chives. The salad is great marinated, but you can serve it right away too. It’s even better the next day.