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
- 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 flat-leaf 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This will be my new standby for healthy, portable lunches. All of these ingredients naturally play well with each other and can often be found in similar salad-y recipes, but this one is special because of the combination of the nutty, vinegary, and fresh citrusy flavors. While looking for black barley (which I couldn’t find), I meant to pick up pre-made za’atar, which I forgot. So, I made my own, according to some recipes I referenced. The salad is still plenty colorful, even without the black barley. Delicious.
This salad is absolutely delicious! It’s very easy to put together and the flavors are fabulous. I didn’t have black barley so I just used double the amount of regular barley. I also didn’t have spinach but had lots of arugula so I used that. I like spicy food, so I didn’t remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno. The heat wasn’t overpowering. The different textures and flavors make this a salad I’ll cook again and again. You might want to double the recipe if you’re making this for more than two people because chances are you’ll want leftovers. Great for take-to-work lunches.
Originally published December 07, 2009