I have been making an effort to introduce new grains to my family, and barley is one of them. I absolutely love barley - its healthier than rice and pasta, but still just as delicious. It is also incredibly versatile, so I can't wait to play around some more and try some new recipes.
I've had this recipe saved for quite some time, and I finally got around to making it a few weeks ago. I think it is meant to be served as a main dish, but I actually served it as a side dish with Rosemary Grilled Chicken Thighs. It was a perfect side, and it made perfect leftovers for lunches. It can be served chilled, at room temperature, or warm, so it would be a perfect contribution to upcoming picnics and potlucks.
I made several changes to the original recipe. First, I'm not a fan of raw fennel, so I omitted it. I also added some red bell peppers, feta cheese, and fresh dill. I think cherry tomatoes would also be a great addition, as would some cucumber. And if you really wanted to shake things up and go crazy, you could use cous cous instead of barley, or even make this into a pasta salad.
However you decide to make it, you'll definitely enjoy this light and fresh salad.
Mediterranean Barley Salad
adapted from Cooking Light, March 2010
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk to combine, and add the barley, onion, parsley, bell pepper, olives, beans, and salt and pepper. Cover and allow to sit either at room temperature or chilled for 30 minutes. Gently fold in the walnuts and feta, and serve.