Barley isn’t new to me. I love barley! I’ve been eating oatmeal made from barley flakes for years. It’s one of my all-time favorite cooked breakfasts. And barley in soups and stews? – definitely! For risotto? — yes! Salads, though, is an entirely new concept to me. I’m not sure why I was stick on this idea that barley had to be eaten while it’s hot. With its slightly malty character, chewy texture and mild nutty flavor, it’s incredibly versatile and oooh-so delicious. Hot or at room temperature!
Pearl barley is one of the oldest grains around and is tasty, nutritious and fabulously filling, but it does take a little foresight and planning. There’s that cooking time. It’s definitely not a comparable to quick “honey, I’ll go put the noodles on” type of dinner.
Though, that doesn’t mean that it’s not easy to pull off. I usually throw on my barley and spend half an hour doing some other things around the flat, only to pop in the kitchen once or twice to give it a stir (if I indeed remember). Multi-tasking 101. Only then, once the barley is standing to cool, do I think about prepping the rest of dinner. I would say that, for this recipe, the actual active time spent in the kitchen is only about 15 minutes. It’s that easy.
My favorite Schwabe told me this salad tastes like medicine. He’s not a fan of estragon. But then again, he ate two bowls full. Apparently, pretty tasty medicine. I on the other hand love the fresh anise flavor of estragon. But understandable, not everyone is a liquorish fan. In that case, go ahead and sub it out for fresh dill.
Because at the peak of summer there are so many amazing varieties of heirloom cherry tomatoes available, I chose a mix of three sweet and juicy types. Any will do, choose your favorite. Also, for this salad, any grain (like spelt or farro) will do, but I highly recommend keeping the barley for its deliciously nutty flavor.
Tomato Barley Salad with Herbs, Yogurt & Lemon
For the salad:
1 cup pearl barley (220 g)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
250 g assorted heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
4 baby cucumbers, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon (NOTE: can be substituted with fresh dill) (about 1 small bunch)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1 small bunch)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the dressing:
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 organic lemon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (full-fat)
1. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the barley and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the barley is al dente. Remove from heat and allow the barley to stand for 15 minutes. If liquid remains, drain the barley in a colander (or use the lid of the pot to strain off any excess moisture). Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
2. Once the barley has cooled, cook the green onions. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the green onions, stirring occasionally, until the start soften and brown a little, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the barley.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon rind and yogurt.
4. Add the tomatoes, cucumber and herbs to the barley and toss to combine. Add the dressing, season with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Serve and enjoy!