First posted: May 12, 2010

Meg’s Easter Barley Salad


I’m not sure where Meg found this (she’s the creative one, slash brilliant wedding photographer slash soon to be mum) but she brought it round for our roast lamb Easter Sunday dinner this year, and I’ve been making versions of it ever since. It’s a little bit high maintenance, but once you’ve got the knack of it you can pull it together fairly easily, and it’s so worth it. It goes beautifully with pretty much everything – roasts, lamb chops, on its own or with chicken flatties on the braai (or bbq if you’re not from Southern Africa).

You can choose to leave out the chilli if you think you can’t stand the heat (I won’t tell you to get out of the kitchen) BUT being a little chilli shy myself, I can honestly say that in this case it adds a delicious kick.



Cooks in:        Serves:6

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup peeled and diced butternut (roughly 1cm cubes)
  • Half a red pepper, core and seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • Half tub cherry or rosa tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 200g green beans, chopped into about 1 inch sticks
  • About 100g Mozzarella or Feta, roughly chopped or shredded
  • 1 handful each of: Fresh mint, coriander, parsley and rocket all roughly chopped
  • 2 or 3 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 baby cucumber (regular English cucumber is also fine), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried chilli or 1 fresh chilli de-seeded
  • 8 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey

What to do

The barley
1. Add 1 cup barley to 3 cups boiling water in a pot and simmer gently until the water has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
2. When the barley is cooked, rinse under luke-warm water in a colander and set aside.

The rest
1. Fry the onions lightly in butter with a sprinkle of sugar until golden brown
2. Roast the butternut at 180C for about 20 minutes (or microwave on high for about 5 minutes until soft)
3. Steam or boil the green beans for just 3-4 minutes, rinse under cold water and set aside
4. Toss the remaining ingredients together in a nice large serving bowl, adding 1 clove chopped garlic

The dressing
1. In a pan heat the olive oil, chilli and remaining clove of garlic together
2. Remove from stove top and add the honey
3. When cooled, add the red wine vinegar and then stir the dressing through the salad.

Variations: This really is one of those dishes that you can add anything to, including chicken or bacon, whole kernel sweet corn, asparagus, broccoli... endless options. Also, it keeps really well in the fridge for up to 3 days afterwards. I would just suggest tossing out the avo if you want to recycle it.

Rob's rating: 'for a salad, this gets an 8/10'

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