There’s nothing like a cold salad on a hot summer’s day. This Barley and Lentil Salad is hearty and filling, but refreshing and healthy. It’s tangy from a fresh dill vinaigrette, and SO inexpensive to make. It’s the perfect vegan side dish or light meal.
Barley is one of my favorite grains. It’s nutty, chewy, hearty, and it holds its shape without turning mushy. I like using it as an alternative to rice, such as with these Spinach and Barley Arancini and this Barley Risotto with Asparagus, Basil, and Lemon.
The two most common types of barley that you can find in your grocery store are hulled barley (barley whose outermost hull, which is not edible, has been removed), and pearl barley (barley whose bran layer and endosperm layer has been removed, in addition to the outermost hull).
While pearl barley has a milder taste and cooks faster, it is not considered a whole grain, whereas hulled barley is a bit nuttier, chewier, is considered a whole grain, takes longer to cook. Hulled barley is higher in fiber in nutrients, similar to whole wheat vs. white flour.
Read more about the health benefits and the different types of barley here.
You can use either hulled or pearl barley for this recipe, but if you want more of a nutritional punch, go with hulled. But don’t worry- I have a trick for cooking it just as quickly as pearl barley!
Simple soak the hulled barley in water overnight before cooking as you would dried beans. It will cut the cooking time in half.
At this point, the barley will take about 30 minutes to cook, while the lentils take about 20. In order to avoid getting two pots dirty, just simmer the barley for 10 minutes and then add lentils into the same pot.
After the barley and lentils are fully cooked, simply drain them from the cooking liquid, mix them with an easy, tangy fresh dill vinaigrette, and allow the salad to cool in the refrigerator. There is more than enough dressing for the grains and lentils to soak up tons of flavor while they are hot without drying them out.
We had this on the side of lamb shanks- fresh from the farmer’s market- for dinner (we were feeling fancy). This barley and lentil salad a great dish to take to a potluck or picnic since you can make it in advance and serve it cold.
It’s also great to pack with veggies and/or another protein for refreshing, healthy summertime work lunches all week long.
Given its Mediterranean flair, I’d love to make this again with sliced Greek-seasoned chicken breasts, feta cheese, and cucumbers mixed in.
Here’s the recipe!
Barley and Lentil Salad with Fresh Dill Vinaigrette
- Place barley (3/4 cup), 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and approximately 4 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add brown lentils (3/4 cup) to pot, simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils and barley are fully cooked.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil (1/4 cup), red wine vinegar (2 tablespoons), fresh dill (1 tablespoon), fresh parsley (1 tablespoon), 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl.
- Drain the barley and lentils of any extra water.
- Mix barley and lentils with dressing in the large bowl. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
- Serve cold.
- Hulled barley, which is a whole grain, takes longer to cook than pearl. Soak the hulled barley in water in the fridge overnight before cooking like you would dry beans- this will reduce cooking time so you can follow the instructions as you would for pearl barley.