This barley salad with roasted vegetables is the perfect grain salad for a picnic, potluck, or a healthy lunch.
The barley has a perfect bite, and its flavor goes well with roasted vegetables. This salad is easy to make, healthy, naturally vegan, and perfect for summer cookouts.
Check out our best vegan salad recipe collection!
Barley salad is a vibrant summer dish, perfect for bringing to a potluck, but also delicious as a healthy lunch or make-ahead dinner.
We mix aromatic roasted veggies for a chewy texture with cooked barley for a nutty flavor.
As usual, use this recipe as a guideline, and feel free to experiment with your ideas by changing the veggies and adding different herbs and condiments.
We like to keep this recipe vegan, however if you are vegetarian and would like to add some cheese, try crumbled feta cheese, shaved parmesan, or a few pieces of goat cheese. And now let's see how to make this delicious barley salad.
Hulled barley or pearl barley is best for this salad. Follow the cooking instructions on your package and cook it al dente. You can replace barley with wild or whole grain rice, farro, buckwheat, couscous, and amaranth.
We use roasted zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and carrots. Here's the full recipe for roasted vegetables and roasted bell peppers.
Note: If you want to make this barley salad even easier, without roasting the vegetables, you can choose a combination of raw bell pepper, arugula, kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and finely chopped red onion.
Use rosemary to season the roasted vegetables. To season the salad, we like to use fresh basil and fresh parsley, however other fresh herbs such as dill, chives, and thyme are great too.
Extra virgin olive oil gives an Italian spin to the dish, and makes it more aromatic and flavorful.
Fresh lemon juice, without seeds. If you don't have lemon juice you can add some red wine vinegar.
Salt & black pepper
Salt is needed for the cooking water of the barley. For that we recommend coarse salt. It's also needed for seasoning the roasted vegetables. For that we recommend regular sea salt or kosher salt.
Step 1: Cook barley
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and season with a half tablespoon of coarse sea salt. Add barley, reduce heat to a low, and let simmer. Stir occasionally until chewy and tender, as instructed on the package (about 45 minutes).
When the barley is al dente, drain it and place it in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lemon onto the barley (avoid lemon seeds).
Step 2: Bake veggies
While the barley cooks, roast the veggies in the oven. Cut the vegetables into slices, and season them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake them for 30 minutes at 430°F (220°C).
Step 3: Mix barley salad
Cut them into dice, add them to the bowl with the barley, and mix well.
Step 4: Fresh herbs and lemon
Add the basil leaves. Then mix well, taste, and adjust for salt, pepper, lemon juice, and serve. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.
If you prefer a bolder dressing, try our dijon mustard vinaigrette or Italian dressing.
Season the cooking water
When you cook pearled barley, the rule of thumb is to salt the boiling water with a small handful of coarse sea salt. Salt will add flavor to the grain, and you'll need less dressing later.
Cool down the barley quickly
Barley is best eaten al dente, with a nice bite and chew. To achieve this, you want to cool down the barley as soon as you drain it. To do that, avoid putting it under cold running water. That will remove a lot of the flavor and texture.
Instead, transfer it into a cold bowl that you previously refrigerated and add the cold juice of one lemon to it. Also, stir it often when in the bowl to allow the hot steam to escape.
Since the barley salad is made with different components (grains, roasted veggies, herbs), you can easily mix it up:
- Grain: replace barley with farro, wild rice, couscous brown rice, quinoa, or any grain of your liking.
- Vegetables: you can easily swap baked vegetables for fresh vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and avocado.
- Dressing: add a creamy component to your grain bowl and whisk up a tahini sauce, green goddess dressing, or chipotle sauce.
- Sprinkle: fresh herbs are perfect as sprinkling for barley salad. You can add mint, chives, cilantro, and dill. Green onion or red onion can also add a nice bite to your meal.
More fresh salads
If you liked this veggie-packed barley salad, you might also enjoy our other salad recipes. Serve them for lunch, dinner, and cookouts:
- Quinoa salad
- Chickpea salad
- Pasta salad with chickpeas
- Brown rice salad
- Vegan pasta salad
- Panzanella salad
- Zucchini salad
These salads are suitable as a side dish or main meal. To make it even more nutritious add cubes of fried tofu or air fryer tofu.
Yes. Barley is a whole ancient grain cultivated for over 10000 years. Eating more whole grains and vegetables is the number one recommendation in the scientific community to live a longer and healthier life.
Barley will not only make you strong and fit, but thanks to its dietary fiber content, it will help reduce inflammation in your body.
Although fiber-rich, barley is not free from gluten, so it's not suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
Being a whole grain, barley takes about 45 minutes to boil. To be sure, check the package instructions and taste the barley to ensure you won't overcook it.
You can store this barley salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Barley salad is best eaten cold or at room temperature, so there is no need to reheat it when you take it out of the fridge.
To make the flavors come out again, take the salad from the refrigerator 30 minutes before eating it.
For many more salad ideas, check out our salads category page.
- 2½ cups barley uncooked
- 1 gallon water to cook the barley
- ½ tablespoon coarse salt to season the cooking water
- 2 zucchini
- 1 eggplant
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 7 ounces mushrooms
- 1 handfull flat-leaf parsley
- 10 leaves basil
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 to cook the baked veggies
- 1 lemon the juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, season with 1 scant tablespoon of coarse sea salt. Add barley, reduce heat to a low and let simmer. Stir occasionally until chewy and tender, as instructed on the package (about 45 minutes).
- While the barley cooks, roast the veggies in the oven. Cut the vegetables into slices, season them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake the for 30 minutes at 430°F (220°C). See our roasted veggie recipe linked in the notes below for full instructions.
- When the barley is cooked al dente, drain it and place it in a cold bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lemon onto the barley (avoid lemon seeds).
- Add the extra virgin olive oil and stir with a spoon until well combined.
- When the vegetables are baked, cut them into dice.
- Then add them to the bowl with the barley
- Add the basil leaves and parsley. Then mix well, taste, and adjust for salt, pepper and lemon and serve.
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