Best-Ever Barley Salad

July 28, 2020

Best-Ever Barley Salad

There’s a certain kind of dish that lets you down not because it’s bad, but because it could have been great. One of those dishes, for me, is barley salad.
Over the last 10 years I’ve probably tasted close to 50 different barley salads; at potlucks, “bring-a-dish” picnics, barbecues, salad bars, and even at one very fancy restaurant (which I’m not gonna name.) I can’t name one that was memorable let alone exceptional.
I sadly almost came to the conclusion that barley salad could never reach the heights of a farro salad or of a rice salad. Good yes, great never.


That was until I found a recipe on Delish that called for the “Best-Ever Farro Salad” and since I’m a person who procrastinates no-matter-what, I decided to give it a go replacing farro with barley.
To be completely honest, I used a different dressing and changed some of the ingredients, that I thought would complement the barley better — while farro and barley share a similar chewy texture, the former has a stronger nutty flavor than the latter.
For the first time something great happened, I made a barley salad that was more than memorable it might actually become an obsession.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make a double batch of this Best-Ever Barley Salad because if I had some left right now, I’d eat it for lunch and then dinner again.

Best-Ever Barley Salad

Tender, chewy barley is mixed with arugula, green apple, pecans, herbs, and shaved Parmesan cheese and mixed with a lemon vinaigrette.
Hearty, healthy, and so much more complex in flavor that one comes to expect from whole grain salads (especially barley salad.)
I am pretty sure I’ll be coming back to this all summer.

Best-Ever Barley Salad                                                                                                                             Print this recipe!

Note: One cup dried pearled barley yields four cups of cooked barley, which is a lot. So think twice before making a double batch.

Serves 8

1 cup pearled barley, rinsed and picked over (I used Arrowhead Mills)
3 cups of water
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups lightly packed arugula
1 Green apple, thoroughly washed and diced
½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
⅛ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped


In a medium saucepan combine barley, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes if you’re using pearled barley, 40 minutes for hulled barley.
The barley is done when it has tripled in volume and is soft yet chewy.
Keep an eye on the saucepan as barley gives off a lot of foam, especially at first and may cause the pot to boil over.
When the barley is done, it will have absorbed most of the water. If there is a little water still left in the pot, just leave the barley to sit for 10 minutes, covered, until it has all been absorbed. If there is a lot of water left, drain the barley in a strainer over the sink.
Fluff the barley with a fork to separate the grains and transfer to a large bowl to cool. Set aside.
To make the dressing, in a medium bowl combine olive oil, apple lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
To make the salad combine cooked barley, arugula, apple, parmesan, basil, parsley, and pecans. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat.
Serve chilled!

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 226 calories, 14 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein.


  1. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar? Mustard and honey amounts?

    1. There were several typos in the recipe, I just fixed it. Sorry about that :)

  2. hey mike,

    Since the beginning of february and i have been working from home in programming and because i sit for long times and because of the disease i stay at home,i gained my weight a lot and tried to search for many ways and i followed a lot. I am looking for a diet that helps me.I get a lot of dvice, including this free book from a friend, and i want to know what do you think about that becaus i like your healthy methods.