Barley Salad

Nutty, chewy barley shines in this simple salad that’s packed with wonderful textures. The contrasting hues of the cream-colored pearl barley and the purplish-black barley make for a beautiful play of colors. I like this barley salad served both warm and at room temperature, and I always make enough so I have leftovers for the next day.–Marcus Samuelsson

Barley Salad Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • 6 to 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup black barley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño chile, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar (see Note)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white and light green parts
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup diced feta cheese
  • 1 cup finely diced cucumber
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1. Rinse the pearl barley and black barley in two separate strainers under cold running water for 5 minutes. Pat dry and keep separate. Fill two separate pots with 1 quart salted water. Add the black barley to one and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add the pearl barley to the other and cook for 45 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Strain each and set aside.
  • 2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, pine nuts, and jalapeño and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and za’atar and cook until the spinach has wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • 3. Combine the remaining olive oil, the pearl barley, black barley, spinach mixture, tomatoes, scallions, lime juice, parsley, feta, cucumber, onion, vinegar, olives, and mint in a large salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

    Note: Za’atar is one of my favorite spice blends. North African in origin, it has citrusy notes that add a bright jolt of flavor. Look for premixed blends in African markets, spice shops, or online.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these: