On The Table

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Simple Barley Salad Recipe

Barley may be an overlooked whole grain, but it truly shines in this barley salad recipe! Find out how to make one delicious side dish, along with a major prep time to expedite the process!

Simple Barley Salad Recipe

Step aside brown rice!

(Although we still enjoy the grain in vegetable fried rice, chicken burrito bowls, just to name a couple…)

But barley is another whole grain that deserves great attention. The grain is a great source of fiber, plant-based protein, and other essential nutrients proven to support heart, digestive, and overall health.

Like rice, barley is versatile to use in so many appetizing dishes - as a breakfast cereal, in soups or stews, or tossed into this very salad!

Find out how to prepare a nutritious and delicious barley salad and learn a major prep tip for swiftness in the kitchen!

Barley Salad Recipe

Yield: 4

Nutrition per serving: 140 calories, 9 g fat, 2 g protein, 14 g total carb, 3 g fiber

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes (if barley is pre-cooked)
Total time: 10 minutes


• 1 cup barley, cooked
• 1/2 cup spinach, chopped
• 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 2 Tbsp almonds, slivered
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 tsp sea salt


1. Cook barley according to package directions. (Also, learn how to cook barley below!)

2. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of cooled barley with all remaining ingredients. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bulk with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and other veggies as desired.

How to Cook Barley

Making the barley ahead saves time for this recipe, as it does take an average of 45 minutes to prepare depending on the type used.

Cook the barley according to its package or follow these 8 simple steps:

1. Rinse barley.

While the water is boiling, rinse 1/2 cup* uncooked barley in a fine-mesh sieve under cold water. This helps remove any grit and ensures a clean bite.

*1/2 cup of dry will yield about 1 1/2 cups cooked for this particular recipe. Feel free to make in batch as well for later use.

2. Toast the barley.

Place a large pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Barley will expand two to three times its size when cooking, so it is important to use a pot big enough to allow this expansion.

Add clean barley to the pot and allow to quickly toast. This helps unleash the nutty flavor barley offers.

3. Add water or stock.

Add 1 1/2 cups of water, or enough to fill halfway in the pot in which the barley is covered.

You can also use chicken or vegetable stock and salt the water as desired.

4. Boil the water with barley.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Be sure to keep a careful eye on the barley. Due to the starchiness of the grain, a lot of foam can occur and cause the pot to boil over.

5. Simmer the barley.

When the barley has reached a boil, lower the heat to a low simmer, cover, and continue to cook. Cook times vary on the type of barley, including pearl and hulled barley:

• Pearl barley: Start checking the barley around 25 minutes, adding more liquid as needed.

• Hulled barley: Check around the 40 minutes mark and add liquid as needed.

All-in-all, cook barley until tender and slightly chewy. Add more water or stock if the pan becomes dry before the barley is cooked, checking frequently.

6. Drain the barley as needed.

The barley will absorb most of the water. But if some remains, leave covered and allow to absorb.

If water still remains, carefully drain off the excess in a strainer over the sink.

7. Fluff the barley.

Fluff the barley with a fork to separate the grains.

8. Use or store barley.

Use in this delicious barley salad and experiment with other ingredients as desired. This may include a barley mixture with sliced bell pepper, chopped carrot, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

To store for later use, cool and store barley in an air-tight, small bowl. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer a month.