Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables

Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables

In the blink of the eye, it’s April. What? Where did the time go? I’m quite sure that it was just the other night when I was doing my usual New Year routine…falling asleep wa-aaay before midnight, and here we are, and it’s April already. I think I write this every year. And yet every year, without fail, I can’t fathom how quickly the time passes. 

However, I do see the time passing…everyday as I look in the mirror! I see it in my children who are growing up so quickly that they’re not little  kids anymore. Even my baby turns 11 this year; him growing up is the hardest for me to wrap my head around. I know that’s how life works but it’s still very hard to get older and watch your children growing up and getting older themselves. I think what’s even harder is when you can remember your youth like it was yesterday. 

Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables

Ok, enough of this getting older business! I’m just happy that I don’t let my age define me, in my mind, I’m still 21 🙂

So, how about all this spring loveliness? I may be a winter person, but I love when spring finally makes an appearance and everything begins to turn this beautiful green. The shops begin to liven up with spring colours and flavours. I know I’m not the only one who gets excited to see mounds of ruby red rhubarb, stacks of asparagus neatly tied up in bunches, zesty purple tinged spring onions and bulbs of pungent green garlic. The vibrant citrus of winter gives away to the feathery lushness of spring. I love how Mother Nature gives us so much joy every season with a variety of fruits and vegetables and an abundance of happy colours to keep our souls and tummies nourished.

Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables

Colorado’s growing season is still a while away. But this is one time I will buy non local because I’m tired of eating winter root vegetables! I need colour, I need freshness, I need variety! The farmers markets are starting up now but are mainly stocked with seedlings and plants. It won’t be till June when we get Colorado produce, and I cannot wait! My local farm stand carries a lot of green house grown produce right now and they are finishing up their fall and winter harvest. 

I didn’t realise how much I missed the green until we went to the Pacific Northwest a couple of weeks ago. It was such a difference between grey, snowy Colorado. Spring was in full force and it was really soul lifting to see the vibrant greenery and the colourful bulbs, all in full bloom. The incredibly, fragrant cherry blossoms laid out a snowy carpet under each tree and I came across a couple of heady honeysuckle bushes too and just stood there breathing in the heavy scent. 

Cherry Blossoms

I was really excited to be visiting that part of the country and looked forward to putting my camera to good use. Yeah….spring in the Pacific Northwest…nothing but rain. Every. Single. Day. All my photos ended up being taken with my iPhone. They’re not bad but not quite the artistic works I was hoping for! I was asked to share some, so here are my excellent iPhone photos. The photos maybe blah, but the experience was wonderful. I really enjoyed my time in a beautiful part of the country.

Portland port/downtown

Downtown Portland by the water


Downtown Seattle from the Bainbridge Island ferry

Downtown Seattle from the Bainbridge Island ferry


Ferris wheel at the Seattle port

Ferris wheel by the Pike Place Market


Flower stalls at Pike Place Market

Flower stalls at Pike Place Market


One of the many fish stalls at the market

One of the many fish stalls at the market


More fish!

More fish!


Home away from home!!

Home away from home!!

This salad is a spring take on a winter salad I was making for many of the events at work. It ended up being quite the hit with lots of requests for the recipe. In that particular salad, I was using Farro grain tossed with roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and fresh spinach that was wilted in the heat of the warm salad. The whole salad was tossed in a sweet tart balsamic dressing and lots of fresh, citrusy herbs to liven up the heavy salad. Since winter is over, I have redone the salad with spring vegetables, this can be served warm, room temperature or cold, since these spring vegetables work well in all temperatures. I’m not a fan of raw mushrooms so I always cook mine but feel free to keep them raw if you don’t mind them that way.

Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables

It’s a great accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats and you really don’t need anything else. I roasted my harissa chicken and we had this salad along side. Since the grains and greens are all in one, a big pile of salad and some chicken is all that is needed for lunch or dinner.

Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables

Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 10 servings

A chewy whole grain barely salad with spring vegetables in a white balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Barley Salad
  • 8 oz/250g pearled barley
  • 1 lb/500g asparagus
  • ½ lb/250g sugar snap peas
  • 8 oz/250g mushrooms, sliced
  • Young pea shoots or other field greens
  • 2 small watermelon radishes
  • ¼ cup chives, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup/235ml vinaigrette
  • White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • ½ cup/120ml white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup/120ml extra Virginia olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Start by making the balsamic vinaigrette.
  2. Add a ½ cup white balsamic vinegar to a medium size bowl.
  3. Mince or grate the garlic clove with a Microplane, and add to the vinegar.
  4. Add the honey and mix together until honey has dissolved.
  5. Add the ½ cup olive oil whisking as you add to emulsify.
  6. Check for salt and pepper and season to your taste.
  7. Put aside until the barley is ready.
  8. Cook the pearled barley according to package instructions.
  9. You want to cook the barley to the firm side and not too soft as it will be in a salad.
  10. While the barley is cooking, prep the vegetables.
  11. Bring a pit of water to boil and once it reaches boiling, add the asparagus.
  12. Cook the asparagus for about 5 minutes pulling them out while they are still a vibrant green and crunchy.
  13. Pull them out into a bowl of ice water to cool them down,
  14. In the same boiling water, blanch the sugar snap peas.
  15. Once again, cook them briefly, 3 minutes, and pull them out while still green and crunchy into a bowl of ice water.
  16. Once the asparagus and sugar snap peas are cool, chop them into bite size pieces if desired.
  17. Cut the asparagus into smaller pieces and the sugar snap peas into halves or thirds.
  18. Sauté the mushrooms in a hot pan with 2 teaspoons oil
  19. Just lightly brown them to cook out the rawness and get a smoky flavour.
  20. Keep aside once cooked.
  21. Once the barley is cooked, drain the excess water if needed and rinse under hot water to get out the starchiness.
  22. Toss the barley with ¼ cup of the vinaigrette.
  23. When ready to serve, toss the mushrooms, asparagus, sugar snap peas, pea shoots or field greens and the herbs together.
  24. Add the remaining vinaigrette, start with ½ cup and add as needed.
  25. I used all 1 cup since the barley absorbs the liquid.
  26. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  27. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Barley Salad with Spring Vegetables

One of the great things about these whole grain salads is that the vegetables can easily be swapped out with the seasons. I’m envisioning heirloom tomatoes, copious amounts of mint and basil, grilled squash or even corn for a summer take.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous start to the week. I am off this week so I’m having  wonderful time! I am excited to take part in BlueStar training event on Wednesday but what I’m really excited about is getting to visit Uncorked Kitchen

Uncorked Kitchen is a food kitchen in Centennial, Colorado, where events, cooking classes, couples classes, corporate events, take place. Their kitchens are outfitted by BlueStar ranges which are some of the most powerful ones in the market (open burners) I haven’t had an opportunity to play with any of these so I’m thrilled to finally get a chance. I’m also thrilled to be attending Uncorked Kitchen because it opened a few months ago and is having great success. I’ve been wanting to drag my husband to a cooking class but let’s just say, they’re a little pricey. So, on Wednesday, since it is a training class, we’ll be going for free with the other guys and girls from work. Score!

  1. That’s the tough part of April. We all know that spring is in full force in some parts of the country while we’re still looking at passing snow clouds, hoping that whatever falls to the ground won’t stick. Even so, I like your answer to our less-than-perfect weather, Nazneen. With its colorful ingredients, it’s spring on a plate and would be a welcome sight on my table, that’s for sure.
    ChgoJohn recently posted..Trenette with Mussels and ClamsMy Profile

  2. What a gorgeous post Naz. I love, love spring vegetables and this is a perfect celebration of the colours and textures of spring! Glad that you managed to get away for a while, despite the rain and lack of colour. It was interesting seeing the sights of a different city though. That fish market photo is hilarious (escapee!). Enjoy the change of seasons and stay warm in the meantime! xx
    laurasmess recently posted..quince and amaretto cakeMy Profile

  3. This is a perfect recipe for us now that my hubby is watching his cholesterol and salt.
    He had a “NOT” heart attack and had a stent put in on New Year’s Eve, of all times.
    He read an article in the Vail Daily describing how people ignore the warning signs of
    heart disease, recognized himself in the article, and promptly called the doctor. That article and the stent saved his life We are eating more and more vegetarian meals. We are not ready to “go vegan,” though. He loves barley so I will be using it more often. We now eat LOTS of vegetables,
    legumes and whole grains and skip meat at least every other meal.

  4. That is such a beautifully presented salad. The colours are stunning and it is very spring-like. I really enjoy barley and it’s good to see it being used other than in a stew xx

  5. Love this refreshing salad Nazneen, perfect for the sunny days we start having in Paris.
    Glad to see more of your photos about the great trip you had in the past couple of weeks. Love markets in general.
    Spring colors and tastes are welcome, winter is fading away. Can’t wait to see nature rebirth…
    Enjoy your week and the training class!

  6. Geez your photos of Seattle make me feel cold. We were there in fall a couple of years ago; a stunning time of the year! Whilst it may be the start of spring where you are, it’s the start of winter here in Australia. Well. sort of. It’s going to be 35C (95F) here today. So much for the cooler weather!

    Whenever I see barley salads it reminds how I don’t make them enough. I adore the simplicity in this one and the freshness of the dressing. So beautiful!
    John @ heneedsfood recently posted..Kolač od šunke {ham cake}My Profile

    • Hi John! Yep, Seattle was very grey. It wasn’t horrendously cold though, only on the ferry did it start getting a bit chilly. On the whole, though it was rainy, it was pleasant. I grew up in London, so I know grey and rainy!
      I know we are on the opposite ends of the earth, but it still fascinates me about our opposite seasons. I hope you get to see some cooler weather soon so it can feel like autumn/winter!
      Thank you for stopping by!

  7. Getting older is largely a good thing, although there are sometimes unsettling parts of it. I think we’re all mentally 21 until one day we wake up and discover that’s long past! Anyway, such a nice, seasonal dish. I’ve been craving this kind of food — thanks. And fun pictures! Thanks for sharing.
    John/Kitchen Riffs recently posted..Pasta with Cauliflower and OlivesMy Profile

    • It’s the unsettling parts that worry me John! I’m quite unsettled 🙂 I try hard to be mentally young but my ageing bones let out the secret and bring me back to reality!

    • Spring is finally here but that also means unexpected showers in the form of snow! I actually love this season here, you can never tell what it’s going to be like!

  8. Nazneen – Your site is GORGEOUS!!! I must have missed some of your posts with it’s debut – but I am so loving the logo and colors! And, I love you outlook on age! LURVE it! I too, am super excited seeing “ruby red rhubarb, stacks of asparagus neatly tied up in bunches, zesty purple tinged spring onions and bulbs of pungent green garlic” and watermelon radishes – they are gorgeous! As is this salad – the epitome of spring’s bounty!
    Shashi @ RunninSrilankan recently posted..Anytime, Anywhere: Cereal MuffinsMy Profile

    • Thank you!!! It was time 🙂 I get tired of the same look and have to change it up. It’s been fun going to the shops lately, all this beautiful greenery!

    • Thanks Karen! It has been beautiful lately! I will most definitely let you know about Uncorked. I’m excited to visit 🙂

  9. I feel so lucky to live in a place where we can get fresh produce all year round. While some of the deep winter greens are hothouse grown, they still taste so wonderful and much fresher than what one can buy in the standard grocery store. Now, it is getting too warm for the spring greens – either in a hothouse or in the ground – and we will be moving on to our summery fare. But that is okay, too.. right?

    This is a beautiful salad, Nazneen – love the combination of flavors and textures!
    David recently posted..It’s a Lamb! It’s a Cake! It’s a Lamb Cake!My Profile

    • You are lucky, David! When I lived in Houston, we had a farm down the road and I pretty much could get produce all year around. But I do love the seasons, and it’s actually nice to see what is “seasonal” and eat seasonally. But your summers are pretty hot and that’s one thing I can’t handle!

  10. How beautiful and healthy! Since I tried watermelon radish I became a real fan for its spicyness and vibrant color.
    Glad to see you had a great time in Portland and Seattle. Nothing like traveling… it has the power to recharge one’s battery. 🙂 Take care, Nazneen!!!

    • Thanks Denise! It was really nice to take a little break. Of course, it didn’t last long and now I’m ready for another vacation!

  11. This is one beautiful salad! I am also a fall-winter person, but no one who cooks and eats could not embrace spring! I like that you sautéed the mushrooms. And I also think barley tends to be under utilized. Especially in these days of quinoa and farro. Bravo!

    • Thank you, Mimi! I always tend to forget about barley and I don’t know why because I love it! You are right about quinoa and farro being the designer grains. But I like those too!