Sunday, January 9, 2011

My go-to summer salad

I have been making this salad all summer, and my obsession with is still growing. It’s incredibly fresh-tasting, perfect for feeding a crowd, and just unusual enough to impress. I used to make it fairly often years ago, but somehow I’d forgotten about it — until I started going through the Ottolenghi cookbook (a gift from my Guinea Pig). Old Yotam is a big fan of fresh coriander, and seeing his creations jogged my memory.

Not only is this salad stupidly simple (and I’m all about that), it’s also wondrously versatile. You could add pretty much anything you like — olives, avocado, salad leaves, croutons, red onion, roasted vegetables, chunks of grilled meat or tofu — and it goes brilliantly with seared tuna steaks or roast leg of lamb. Oooh my mouth is watering.

Pearl barley salad
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

125ml pearl barley, rinsed
1 large handful each fresh coriander, basil and mint leaves, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of one lemon
About 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
½ English cucumber, chopped into small cubes (roughly 5mm)
2 medium or one large tomatoes, chopped into small cubes (roughly 5mm)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Add the barley to a saucepan filled with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, or until tender. Drain in a sieve, then spread the barley out on a tray to cool and dry out a little.
2. In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice, and mix until the salt has dissolved.
3. In a large bowl, combine the barley with the cucumber, tomato, herbs, garlic and dressing, and mix well to combine.
4. Set aside for 20 minutes to an hour to give the flavours a little time to develop, then serve.


  1. I love this salad, when we are in Hermanus for holidays, we make a big batch and have it for a few meals with braai fish, chicken, lamb etc. How was your holiday?

  2. Nina, it was absolutely wonderful and over far too quickly!! Spent time with the folks in Calitzdorp and then did the Whale Trail over New Year. Sounds like yours was lovely :-)
    Robyn x

  3. Love your colourful salad, the pearl barley definitely makes it interesting!

  4. wonderful salad, happy new year Robyn :-) Rebecca

  5. Hi Robyn, happiest of new years to you! I love pearly barley and this salad looks delish. Your holidays sounded marvellous - hope that 2011 brings you nothing but happiness, joy and love!

  6. This looks nice and fresh. I always say that herbs should be used as ingredients,not garnishes. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  7. Delicious and healthy. Perfect salad for summer !

  8. Gotta love the Ottolenghi cookbook huh, I've found so many recipes in it that just have to be tasted, not surprised you've picked on this little winner. I haven't used barley in salads forever & the use of herbs ...., think I'm going to have to try this one out too and soon.

  9. hi Robyn

    thanks for stopping by my blog :) so nice to get comments :)
    yes the dish that the chicken is roasted in is from woolies - I just love that dish :) so easy to use and such a nice white so good for pictures :)

    have a great rest of the week

    Betty B x

  10. Fantastic. Not enough people serve pearl barley these days.

  11. I have to try this now that I can find coriander leaves and fresh mint...I think it will not work with just parsley...
    Thanks for your visit...I saw all the other posts of your blog, you cook more italian dishes than me!!! I can learn from you, I'm sure...
    Nice pics, I miss the sun...I don't see it since october...

  12. Looking fabulous and your mention of seared tuna has me drooling as well.

  13. Oh why do you torture us so?? That list of suggestions on what you can add to this salad has me drooling on my desk! Barley salads are fabulous - so filling and tasty and good for you. As for Yotam Ottolenghi... my total hero!

  14. Not only delicious and versatile, but the use of the pearl barley makes this a whole grain powerhouse! Well done!

  15. Mmmmm. Fab. For all the great herb-y greens in this, I swear it's the cucumber that really charges up the refreshment with these kinds of beautiful salads.

    And I'm w/ you on Ottolenghi. He and Tamimi are stunning cooks.

  16. Look so healthy, Robyn - I am so making this! I have been thinking about barley and wondering what I could do with it apart from soup recipes!

  17. Well, I'd eat this yummy salad even during winter! Delicious!

  18. Could do with some healthy food right now and this salad certainly looks delicious and healthy!

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