Barley Greek Salad

Barley is well known for its stews and soups, yet, there are other uses that some are not familiar with. One of which is salad. Barley in a salad is a wonderful addition as it gives a chewy texture to crunchy vegetables. Mixed with the right dressing, barley salad would be a great dish to add this Christmas season. 

Pearl Barley doesn't really need soaking and will be tender in half an hour, or less. While simmering, start checking at 25 minutes and check every 5 minutes thereafter. If the water has dried up already and the barley has not finished cooking, add more water. The Barley is done if it has double in volume and is soft yet chewy. 

I use rice wine vinegar instead of red wine since I don't have the latter. It is important to use good quality red bell pepper and cherry tomatoes. Its sweetness balances the sourness of wine vinegar and the saltiness of feta cheese.

Barley Greek Salad

1 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt
2 cups yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed and diced
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Wash the barley.  Combine with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the barley is tender. Check for tenderness at about 25 minutes and continue checking thereafter until the grain is fully cooked. Drain in a colander and let cool.

Combine the tomatoes, feta, olives, mint, bell pepper and shallots in a bowl. Add the cooled barley.
Whisk together the red wine vinegar and olive oil in a separate small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Dress the salad and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


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