Egyptian Barley Salad with Pomegranate and Feta is an easy, healthy Mediterranean / Egyptian-inspired recipe! It’s packed with flavor from warm spices, sweet raisins, savory scallions, and crunchy almonds. This vegetarian side or light main dish is easy to whip up in 15 minutes, can be made ahead, and is easily adaptable to be gluten-free and vegan.
Move over, all salad recipes. This Spiced Egyptian Barley salad takes the cake. The flavors are amazing!
Cumin, cinnamon, and maple syrup in the dressing. Plump sweet golden raisins and juicy pomegranate. Nutty cooked barley and crunchy almonds. Salty and pungent feta, scallions, and parsley. They all come together to form an epic taste explosion that you’re going to love!
And best of all? It’s easy to whip this Mediterranean salad up in only 15 minutes if you have already cooked barley. You can serve it as a side dish or main course, and you can make it ahead of time (the leftovers are great!).
This recipe was inspired by the “Egyptian Barley Salad” in the America’s Test Kitchen Complete Mediterranean Cookbook. For more Egyptian recipe inspiration, check out the blog Kitchen Keys!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cooked barley – I love to cook barley in an Instant Pot because it’s so fast! For a gluten-free option, you can use cooked rice, farro, quinoa, or another intact (not ground) whole grain instead.
- Pomegranate (This really makes the salad special, but another sweet juicy fruit like diced grapes or raspberries could work.)
- Cumin, Cinnamon, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar for the dressing (you can use pomegranate molasses, sugar, or honey in place of the maple syrup and another vinegar or lemon juice for the dressing, if you need to).
- Golden raisins (You can use regular raisins instead)
- Sliced or slivered almonds (Can be replaced with walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version.)
- Green onions (These really are important here, but some finely diced red onion may work in a pinch)
- Feta cheese (may be substituted with goat cheese, queso fresco, or a similar crumbly farm cheese- omit to make this salad vegan, or use a vegan substitute.)
- Fresh parsley or cilantro (or a mix of both, whatever you prefer!)
How to make Egyptian Barley Salad
- First, make the dressing. Mix up some olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. I like to do this in a large bowl so I can add the rest of the salad ingredients in without getting more dishes dirty.
- Then, add the raisins. Let them sit for a little to plump up in the liquid- this will make them softer and more flavorful.
- Add the cooked barley to the dressing and raisins and toss to coat.
- Add the remaining ingredients– parsley, almonds, green onions, feta, and pomegranate seeds. Toss to coat.
- Serve drizzled with more olive oil and seasoned to taste!
How to make ahead and store
This Egyptian barley salad holds up extremely well once it’s completely assembled. It doesn’t get very soggy. So, you can just make it up to 24 hours in advance and serve it when you’re ready, or eat it for meal prep or leftovers throughout the week!
I also love it cold straight out of the fridge, but you can let it come to room temperature for an hour or so before serving if you prefer.
After 24 hours, it will still be safe (and delicious!) to eat for a few more days, but it might be a little more soggy.
What to serve with it
While I love this barley salad as a meal on its own, it’s also great as a side dish. With the warm spices in the dressing, it would even be great with Thanksgiving dinner!
Here’s what I recommend serving with it. Since the salad is so flavor packed, I recommend a fairly simply flavored main.
- Chicken Souvlaki
- Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin
- Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
- Cilantro Lime Shrimp (air fryer recipe)
- Crispy Tofu (air fryer recipe)
More Mediterranean Salad Recipes
- Mediterranean Chickpea and Orzo Salad
- Chickpea Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Salad with Feta
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Beet Salad with Feta, Cucumbers, and Dill
- Barley and Lentil Salad with Fresh Dill vinaigrette
Check out all my Greek and Mediterranean-inspired recipes here!
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Spiced Barley Salad with Pomegranate and Feta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt more if needed
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper more if needed
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 3-3.5 cups cooked barley cooled (see notes)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 4 green onions thinly sliced (green and light green parts)
- 4 oz. feta cheese crumbled or cubed
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil (2 tablespoons), maple syrup (2 tablespoons), apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon), ground cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon), ground cumin (1/2 teaspoon), kosher salt (1 teaspoon), and black pepper (1/4 teaspoon).
- Add the raisins (1/3 cup) to the bowl and toss to coat. If you have time, let them sit for 5-10 minutes (I like to prep my other ingredients while I wait).
- Add the cooked barley (3-3.5 cups) to the bowl and toss to coat well. Add the parsley or cilantro (1/4 cup), sliced almonds (1/2 cup), 4 sliced green onions, cubed or crumbled feta cheese (4 oz.), and 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds. Toss gently. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve drizzled with more extra-virgin olive oil and chopped parsley or cilantro if desired.
- Ingredient substitutions: Pomegranate molasses or 1.5 tablespoons of honey can be substituted for maple syrup; regular raisins can be substituted for golden; lemon juice or red wine vinegar may be substituted for apple cider vinegar; other nuts such as pine nuts, chopped walnuts, pecans, or pistachios can be substituted for the almonds, or sunflower or pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version.
- For a gluten-free recipe, substitute the cooked barley with cooked rice or quinoa.
- For a vegan recipe, omit the feta or use a vegan substitute.
- This recipe was inspired by the America’s Test Kitchen “Egyptian Barley Salad” in the Complete Mediterranean Cookbook.
- This recipe serves about 4 as a meal and 8 as a side (nutrition facts are calculated for serving 8)