Comforting, filling barley is an under-appreciated grain. Put it to good use in this appealing and easy barley salad with apricots and pecans.
When it comes to grain salads, the first instinct is to opt for rice or quinoa. Nothing wrong with those, of course. But barley gives you an offbeat option with a a pleasantly chewy texture that’s downright surprising in a cold dish — after all, most of the time, it’s encountered in soup.
Serve with: This salad goes nicely with Middle Eastern fare. Add to a mezze platter with hummus, baba ghanouj, stuffed grape leaves, and the like. Serve as a lovely winter salad with a puréed soup (such as Carrot-Ginger Soup). It’s also a sturdy dish to take to potlucks.
A bit about barley
Barley can be just as versatile as rice and combines well with bold seasonings. Two kinds of barley are generally available. The most familiar form is pearl barley. Pearling is accomplished by grinding off the tenacious hulls of the grain with the use of abrasive disks. Pearl barley isn’t a whole grain, then, but it still has plenty going for it. Pot barley goes through fewer pearlings to remove most of the hull and some of the bran, leaving more of the nutrients intact. Pot barley has a deeper tan color than pale pearl barley.
Both pearl and pot barley are rich in the B vitamins, particularly niacin and thiamine, and provides good quantities of minerals, particularly potassium, as well as iron, phosphorus, and calcium.
Is barley gluten-free? Definitely not! Barley is 5 to 8 percent gluten, so should be avoided by those who have this concern. Learn lots more on this site’s Guide to Barley.
- 1 cup pearl or pot barley
- 2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 3/4 cup moist dried apricots, sliced
- 1/2 cup finely diced orange or red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup vinaigrette, bottled or homemade (see link to homemade vinaigrette in Notes), or as needed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more, to taste
- 2 handfuls baby spinach, arugula, or other baby greens, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Rinse the barley in a fine sieve. Combine with 2 1/2 cups of water for pearl barley, or 3 cups water for pot barley in a roomy saucepan. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 35 minutes for pearl barley, 45 minutes for pot barley. In either case, if the grain isn’t done to your liking once the water absorbs, stir in 1/2 cup additional water and cook until absorbed. Repeat as needed. Let the barley cool to room temperature.
- Toast the pecans on a dry skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes or so, stirring often, or until they release their nutty aroma. Remove from the heat.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked barley with the toasted nuts and the remaining ingredients. Taste to see if you’d like more vinaigrette and/or lemon juice. Serve at once.
Link to this site's recipe for Basic Vinaigrette.
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Here are lots more easy and tasty vegan salads & sides.