Mediterranean Barley Salad

5 from 5 votes
1 hour 5 minutes
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This fresh, crunchy, healthy Mediterranean Barley Salad is the perfect salad to add to your meal prep routine! Full of crunchy vegetables like green beans and red bell pepper, it stays fresh, flavorful and is super versatile! Add protein with tuna, chicken or keep it vegetarian with chickpeas for a well-rounded grab-and-go lunch!

Mediterranean Barley Salad with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Olives and Feta in serving bowl with serving spoon garnished with fresh parsley.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

We love having ready-made salads in our refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go meal any time of year. Mediterranean Barley Salad with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Olives and Feta is perfect for a quick lunch or side dish.

This hearty, healthful barley salad recipe keeps well for several days in the refrigerator so it’s perfect to add to your meal prep routine.

Best of all, it’s super versatile!

  • Add protein with canned tuna or simply cooked chicken.
  • Add vegetarian protein with chickpeas.
  • Serve in pita bread by itself or with the added protein for a balanced, satisfying meal!
Mediterranean Barley Salad with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Olives and Feta

How to Make Mediterranean Barley Salad:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this barley salad recipe along with how to prep. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Mediterranean Barley Salad in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Pearled Barley: If you’ve never had barley before, you may find the nutty flavor and the delightful al dente chewy texture downright addictive! Barley is one of the world’s oldest grains which is why it is often referred to as an ancient grain. Also called pearl barley, it’s created when unhulled barley is polished to remove the inedible coating. This process also allows for faster cooking time. Even with the hull removed, pearled barley is high in fiber. Here’s more information on the health benefits of barley from Healthline.com. >>Barley contains gluten making it unsuitable for people with celiac disease.
  • The Vegetables: Good green beans and red bell pepper are available year round as are onions.
  • Dijon Mustard: Named after the city of Dijon, France, Dijon mustard has a tangy, assertive flavor with a touch of spice.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: A staple ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, red wine vinegar has a robust, distinctive flavor. It’s a popular choice for vinaigrettes and is also frequently used in marinades.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh is always best!
  • Kalamata Olives: Kalamata olives add a lovely salty bite and rank among my favorite! These dark brown to black olives have a smooth, meaty texture and are named after the city of Kalamata in southern Peloponnese, Greece. They’re readily available pitted but be sure to check each one as the mechanical pitting process can miss one or two.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Prepare an ice bath.
  • Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
  • Drop the green beans into the boiling water and cook for just a minute or two or until they turn bright green. (They should remain crunchy.)
  • Scoop the green beans out and immediately place them into the prepared ice bath. Set aside to cool then drain and blot dry.
Green beans in ice water in glass bowl.
  • Cook the barley according to the package directions. I used Bob’s Red Mill which took approximately 30 minutes to cook.
  • While the barley is cooking, mix up the dressing for the salad.
Dressing for Mediterranean Barley Salad in glass bowl.
  • When the barley is cooked to an al dente stage, drain it in a sieve and cool under cold running tap water. Drain again. You want nice, fluffy, chewy yet tender grains.
Cooked barley in glass bowl.
  • Combine the barley, green beans, red bell pepper, red onion and Kalamata olives in a large mixing bowl.
  • MAKE AHEAD:  Cook the beans and the barley as directed.  Combine with the other ingredients, stir and refrigerate.  Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and refrigerate separately.  When ready to serve, pour the vinaigrette over the salad, stir and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.  Can be made up to 4 days ahead of time
Ingredients for Mediterranean Barley Salad in glass bowl not yet stirred together.
  • Pour on the dressing, add the cheese and parsley…
Barley salad being stirred with white spoon in glass bowl.

That’s it! Enjoy this healthful and flavorful Mediterranean Barley Salad with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Olives and Feta!

Mediterranean Barley Salad with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Olives and Feta in serving bowl garnished with fresh parsley.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • When blanching vegetables, be generous with the salt. A chef mentor of mine said it should taste like “seawater.” That salt followed by a quick dunk into ice water will set the color of green vegetables.
  • Cooked barley freezes extremely well. Cook up a big batch then freeze in small bags to use when needed. Barley makes a great addition to soup!
Mediterranean Barley Salad with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Olives and Feta in serving bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How far in advance can I make a barley salad?

Mediterranean Barley Salad keeps in the refrigerator for up to four days.

What can I substitute for the barley to make this gluten-free?

To make this salad gluten-free, substitute short-grain brown rice or quinoa for the barley.

What other vegetables could I use?

Because Mediterranean Barley Salad is so versatile, you could add or substitute carrots and use other colors of bell peppers in place of the red. Cruciferous vegetables tend not to pair well with feta cheese. For a more summery salad, tomatoes and cucumbers would work beautifully, similar to my Mediterranean Farro Salad.

Great make-ahead pairings include:

More great Mediterranean-inspired salads!

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Mediterranean Barley Salad with Green Beans, Red Bell Pepper, Olives and Feta in serving bowl with serving spoon garnished with fresh parsley.

Mediterranean Barley Salad

5 from 5 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
This fresh, crunchy, healthy Mediterranean Barley Salad is the perfect salad to add to your meal prep routine! Full of crunchy vegetables like green beans and red bell pepper, it stays fresh, flavorful and is super versatile! Add protein with tuna, chicken or keep it vegetarian with chickpeas for a well-rounded grab-and-go lunch!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Side Dishes – Salads
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 8
Calories 381 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Salt
  • 8 ounces green beans - trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces (approximately heaping cups)
  • 1 cup pearled barley - uncooked
  • 1 large red bell pepper - cut into thin strips approximately 1-inch long
  • 1/2 medium red onion - chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley - plus more for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Prepare an ice bath. Bring a saucepan of generously salted water to a boil. Add the green beans. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until bright green and still crisp-tender. Keep the water at a boil.
  • Remove the beans with a small sieve or slotted spoon and transfer to the ice bath to cool. Drain and place on paper towels to dry.
  • Add the barley and cook until tender following package directions.* Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold running water to cool. Drain thoroughly.
  • Combine the barley, green beans, red bell pepper, olives and feta cheese in a large bowl and stir to combine.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and salt and black pepper to taste. Adjust acidity as desired.
  • Pour vinaigrette over the salad, add the parsley and stir. Garnish with additional chopped parsley.

Notes

*I used Bob’s Red Mill pearled barley which took all of 30 minutes to cook.  Other brands may not take as long.
MAKE AHEAD:  Cook the beans and the barley as directed.  Combine with the other ingredients, stir and refrigerate.  Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and refrigerate separately.  When ready to serve, pour the vinaigrette over the salad, stir and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.  Can be made up to 4 days ahead of time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 294mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1121IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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5 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. Have shared the recipe as well as making it several times myself. What a versatile dish! Thank you!

    1. Hi, Nancy, Thanks so very much and so glad you enjoyed! It’s definitely versatile; I love recipes that have options to either customize or because not every ingredient is on hand. Thanks again!