Mediterranean Barley Salad

This is a variation of our grain salad base recipe. Barley is a whole grain that not a lot of people use, but we think that it’s so delicious! It has a nice chewy texture and holds up well in soups, stews, or grain salads. We combine barley with other Mediterranean flavors to create this light and flavorful Mediterranean barley salad.

Are Grain Salads Healthy?

This grain salad features nutrient-packed ingredients that are found in the Mediterranean diet: barley, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Barley

Whole grains like barley are a good source of fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. Fiber is important for digestion, satiety, stable blood sugar, good cholesterol, and healthy gut bacteria. Phytochemicals work as antioxidants to help fight off diseases and keep us well. 

Garbanzo Beans

Beans of all varieties are a great source of plant-based protein. They are also high in complex carbohydrates and fiber. 

Red Bell Pepper

Red bell peppers are a great source of disease-fighting phytochemicals and vitamins A & C. Different colored vegetables provide different phytochemicals, so consuming a variety of colors is ideal. 

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

A healthy vinaigrette dressing made from extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar adds flavor and nutrition. The fats and oils in vinaigrette help your body absorb certain nutrients in the salad, so avoid fat-free varieties. For optimal nutrition, make the balsamic vinaigrette yourself.

Culinary Tips

Quick-cooking barley speeds up the cook time, but leftover cooked barley makes the recipe come together even faster! For added nuttiness, toast the barley in the pot before adding water.

Be sure to toast the almonds as indicated in the recipe. It really improves the flavor!

Be sure to drain and rinse the beans well.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Barley: any whole grain will work, but we recommend against using oats. Choose intact whole grains that keep their shape like brown rice, farro, quinoa, and spelt. Refined grains like white rice can be subbed, but the salad won’t be as nutritious.
  • Garbanzo Beans: any variety will work, but navy or cannellini would make the best Mediterranean substitute. You can use sodium-free canned beans instead of low-sodium. However, from the culinary perspective, beans taste better when salt is added during the cooking process as opposed to afterwards. 
  • Bell Peppers: any color will work, but red, orange, or yellow are preferable over green. Green bell peppers aren’t as sweet.
  • Fresh Italian Parsley: can substitute regular curly parsley, but Italian parsley is more flavorful; curly is better for garnishing. Other fresh herbs such as basil or dill can also be used, but they have stronger flavors, so use according to your taste preferences. We don’t recommend using dried herbs in this recipe; fresh herbs add a brightness that can’t be matched.
  • Nuts: any nut will work; just make sure they are sliced, slivered, or chopped and toasted.
  • Dressing: any vinaigrette dressing can work. Pesto would also be delicious in this recipe.

Recipe Variations

Want a vegan grain salad? Leave out the feta cheese.

Love fresh garlic? Add a minced clove. Diced shallot or red onion would also be delicious.

Need some recipe inspiration?

Check out these other grain salad recipes!

Warm Farro Salad with Spring Veggies

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

Serving Suggestions

Served cold or warm, this Mediterranean barley salad can be a light meal on its own, or a side to another dish, like our pesto crusted salmon.

Storage Recommendations

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. 

Want some more Mediterranean-style recipes?

Check out these easy, healthy recipe ideas!

Mediterranean Lentil Salad with Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Spiced Cauliflower

Watermelon Tomato Salad

Dill Yogurt Salmon

Mediterranean Barley Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This simple whole grain barley salad features the flavors of the Mediterranean: garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, parsley, feta, and balsamic!

Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Vegetarian
Yield: 5 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup barley, quick cooking
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 15 ounce can low-sodium garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced (~1 cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted, slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup homemade or store-bought balsamic vinaigrette
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place barley in a pot and add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.

  2. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Drain excess water, fluff with a fork, and transfer to a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly.

  3. Place garbanzo beans, bell pepper, parsley, feta cheese, and almonds in the bowl with the slightly cooled barley. Add vinaigrette. Using a spatula, fold until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

For added nuttiness, toast the barley in the pot before adding water.

 

Be sure to toast the almonds as indicated in the recipe. It really improves the flavor!

 

Be sure to drain and rinse the beans well.

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