Barley Salad

A wooden bowl of barley salad with shopped spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, onion, and olives

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

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • 6 to 8 servings
Print RecipeBuy the New American Table cookbook

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  • 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


  • 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.

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