Brrrrr did you feel the sudden chill in the air lately ? We are definitely headed for some cooler weather and although the chill has set in the rain is still on it's way.

I love this time of the year as the temperature is perfect (for me anyway) and it's the ideal time to make comfort food which is still light but verging on the richer and more nourishing winter treats.

Overseas Autumn is called 'Fall' and whilst we don't have these colourful leafy displays on our trees, we sure do have some colourful and colour rich fruit and veg.
Today I want to share a favourite Autumn salad which you can either use as a side dish (both hot and cold) or as a salad for those last ditch braai's (barbeques) before our winter weather sets in.

Enjoy and keep warm ...
Chickpea, Butternut & Barley Autumn Salad

Preparation & Cooking time : 1hr cooking & 15 minutes preparation
Serves : 4

Difficulty : 2/10

You will need:
For the salad :
250gr cooked Pearl Barley
1 x Large Butternut (cut into fingers or strips)
1/2 Tin of Chickpeas
50gr Seed mix of pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds (for crunch)

Spice Mix for coating the Butternut:
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tsp Garlic Flakes
1/2 Tsp Mixed Herbs
50ml Olive Oil
1 pinch Salt
1 pinch Crushed Black Pepper

For the dressing :
50ml Olive Oil
50ml Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Rosemary
1 tsp Garlic Flakes
1 pinch of Salt
1 pinch Crushed Black Pepper
** optional a pinch of Chilli Powder

For the salad:
- Boil the pearl barley in a pot of water on the stove for 30 - 45 mins (check regularly so that you do not overcook, it must be al dente or slightly crunchy)
- leave pearl barley to cool for half an hour
- cut butternut into strips/fingers, rinse and put in a large bowl
- mix the spices for the butternut together along with the olive oil and coat the butternut fingers
- spread the coated butternut fingers on a baking tray and bake on 180'c for 15 - 20 mins, or until the butternut is soft but firm and caramelising on the edges.
- drain and rinse the chickpeas and leave in a colander to let any additional liquids drain

For the Dressing :
Place all the dressing ingredients into a jug and blitz with a stick blender for 2 minutes , pour into a jug and set aside until just before serving.

To Assemble:
Plate the salad on a platter layering first the chickpeas, then the pearl barley, the butternut fingers (position these in a 'higgledy piggledy' way) , sprinkle over the seed mix and cover with a generous amount of dressing just prior to serving.

Et Voila!

I just love this autumn salad it is such comfort food with the firm fleshiness of the butternut , the crunchy pearl barley which adds texture and contrast and complimented by the dense chickpeas and slightly sweet dressing's yum!

** cooks note - 
You can also add a sprinkling of feta if you want added flavour and colour.

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