Barley Salad

June 12th, 2009 / Comments 5

Pasta salads, whether macaroni, orzo, or linguini have become commonplace, available at deli counters and appearing at every pot luck dinner and picnic. Why not use another grain as the featured player in a main course salad?

barley+plant+01+copy Barley Salad

Consider barley for the lead role in a salad with a southwestern flair. Barley, a cereal grain, is a major animal feed crop. Smaller amounts are used for malting in brewing beer and in health food. In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad prescribed barley for grief and the effects of aging.

The first time I was served barley salad I didn’t know what I was eating. I had only experience barley playing a supporting role in beef soup. You can find barley in your market with the bags of dried beans and lentils.  Here’s how I made it:

Barley Salad

Begin with one and a half cups of barley, after you have made sure that there are no tiny stones masquerading as barley, rinse with cold water before putting it into a sauce pan with four cups of water. Resist the urge to add salt at this point. Simmer uncovered, until tender, about thirty five minutes, adding more water if necessary.

While the barley cooks, dice one large red onion and put it in a bowl of salted, ice water to get rid of the strong, raw taste.

In a large bowl, combine the drained barley with sixteen ounces of uncooked, frozen corn; one diced red pepper; one diced, jalapeno pepper; the rinsed and drained red onion; one can black beans, drained; one diced English cucumber; and the leaves from one bunch of fresh cilantro.

Garlic Cumin Salad Dressing

In a blender combine four cloves of garlic, blanched in boiling water for three minutes; a quarter of a cup each of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and canola oil; one tablespoon ground cumin. Gently stir in the dressing. Add salt and pepper. If you want more heat, add ground cayenne pepper to taste.

barley+salad+01 Barley Salad

I prefer to serve this salad at room temperature rather than refrigerated but unlike either pasta or rice, the texture of the barley doesn’t change when the salad is refrigerated.

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Barley Salad List

  • 1 1/2 c barley
  • 1 large red onion
  • 16 oz uncooked, frozen corn
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro.
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup  red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
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