Barley Salad

$14.21 recipe / $1.42 serving
by Jess - Budget Bytes
5 from 2 votes
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I love a healthy salad with tons of texture, and this Barley Salad recipe is a fresh and juicy flavor bomb! I combined the bold Mediterranean flavors of tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, and feta cheese with high-fiber pearled barley for a rich and filling salad. Tossed in a tangy and herbaceous dressing, this salad is the perfect side for any meal!

overhead view of barley salad in a bowl.

What Is Barley?

Barley is a chewy and nutty cereal grain that is rich in fiber and minerals and is the base of this hearty grain salad. This barley salad is similar to our couscous salad but packed with even more wholesome veggies and feta cheese!

Ingredients for Barley Salad

Here’s what you’ll need to make barley salad:

  • Quick Cook Pearled Barley: This type of barley has already been hulled, steamed, and polished, so it cooks much faster. If using hulled barley, you’ll need to increase the cooking time significantly.
  • Grape Tomatoes: Add a pop of fresh, juicy flavor.
  • Kalamata Olives: Add a briny flavor.
  • Cucumber: Adds freshness and crunch.
  • Red Bell Pepper: Adds sweetness and crunch.
  • Zucchini: Adds a mild and sweet flavor.
  • Red Onion: Adds a bit of bite!
  • Feta Cheese: Adds creaminess and tanginess to the salad.
  • Fresh Parsley: Adds freshness and color to the dressing.
  • Lemon: I use the juice and zest to make the dressing fresh and zippy!
  • Sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness to the dressing.
  • Spices: Salt, black pepper, and garlic powder add savory flavor to the dressing.
  • Dijon Mustard: Adds a touch of tanginess and spice to the dressing.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Enhances the tanginess of the dressing.
  • Olive Oil: Helps emulsify the dressing and tone down the acidity.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover barley salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I prefer to enjoy this salad chilled straight from the fridge!

Tips and Notes

  • If you’re in a rush, you can quickly cool the barley by rinsing it in a colander under cold water, and then draining well.
  • For a gluten-free option, swap the barley for brown rice or quinoa (cooked according to the package).
  • If your red onions are particularly strong, you can soak the cut pieces in ice water for 10 minutes to mellow them out.
holding a forkful of barley salad over a serving in a bowl.
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Barley Salad Recipe

5 from 2 votes
This Barley Salad recipe combines tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, and feta cheese with high-fiber pearled barley for a rich and filling salad.
overhead view of barley salad in a bowl.
Servings 10 (1.5 cups each)
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 30 minutes

Ingredients

Salad Ingredients:

  • 11 oz. box Quick Pearled Barley ($2.74)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt ($0.01)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved ($1.98)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives ($1.04)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced ($0.64)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced ($1.48)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 cup) ($0.93)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced ($0.46)
  • 5 oz. crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup) ($2.88)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley ($0.32)
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested ($0.50)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar ($0.04)
  • 1 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper ($0.10)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard ($0.06)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder ($0.15)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar ($0.32)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil ($0.54)

Instructions 

  • Stir 2 cups of quick barley into 4 cups of briskly boiling water with 1/4 tsp sea salt.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and cover, cooking for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff finished quick barley with a fork and allow it to cool while you prep your veggies.
  • Halve the grape tomatoes; strain and portion the chopped kalamata olives; peel and the dice cucumber; and seed and dice the red bell pepper, zucchini, and red onion. Crumble 1/2 cup of feta cheese and set aside.
  • Mince the parsley; zest and juice the lemon; and gather the sugar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, and garlic powder.
  • Whisk the red wine vinegar, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and garlic powder together.
  • Combine the cooked and cooled quick barley, all prepped vegetables, crumbled feta cheese, and dressing in a large mixing bowl.
  • Toss everything to combine. Add salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy!

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Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 211kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 6gFat: 8gSodium: 528mgFiber: 6g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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overhead view of a serving of barley salad in a white bowl topped with feta.

how to make Barley Salad – step by step photos

barley cooking in a pot of boiling water.

Stir 2 cups of quick barley into 4 cups of briskly boiling water with 1/4 tsp sea salt.

cooked fluffed barley in a pot.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, cooking for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff finished quick barley with a fork and allow it to cool while you prep your veggies.

diced vegetables on a cutting board.

Halve 1 cup grape tomatoes; strain and portion 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives; peel and dice 1 cucumber; and seed and dice 1 red bell pepper, 1 small zucchini, and 1/2 red onion. Crumble 1/2 cup of feta cheese and set aside.

dressing ingredients in individual bowls.

Mince 3 Tbsp parsley; zest and juice 1 lemon; and gather 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, and 1 tsp garlic powder.

dressing for barley salad in a white bowl.

Whisk 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 3 Tbsp olive oil, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and garlic powder together.

pouring dressing. over barley salad in a white bowl.

Combine the cooked and cooled quick barley, all prepped vegetables, crumbled feta cheese, and dressing in a large mixing bowl.

tossed barley salad in a white bowl.

Toss everything to combine. Add salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy!

closeup of barley salad in a white bowl.

Enjoy this rich and filling barley salad with your next healthy meal!

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Comments

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  1. I’ll replace barley with brown rice. How much cooked rice should I use?

    Thanks.

    1. I would recommend 5-6 cups of cooked rice for this recipe, especially if you are meal-prepping or making this for a cookout, etc. (The yield is high on this one!) You can add less or more rice depending on the ratio you prefer, veggies to rice. I tend to like more veggies in general.

  2. This looks nice and like it will work :) I have made a sweeter version with goat cheese, red onion, cranberries, hazelnuts, and apples in a raspberry vinaigrette before! It’s very autumnal.

  3. Should I use flat or Italian parsley? Does it matter? I can never tell the difference.

    1. Hey April, any kind of parsley you choose will taste great. I used flat parsley, also known as “Italian parsley”. Curly parsley is ok, too!