Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

The April book club meeting provided a little interruption in taco week.  Tacos don’t travel that well so I opted for a salad instead.  I needed a main dish salad so something with protein and substance to it.  I bought some pearled barley ages ago and never got around to making the barley and mushroom soup for which it was intended so it became my salad.  And it’s a pretty good salad.

Pearled Barley Salad

Of course I made a few changes to the recipe.  I added some rotisserie chicken to give it a little bulk.  I left out the basil because fresh basil and feta don’t excite me when you put them together.  I made the dressing mostly as instructed, but with slightly less oil.  Next time I’d probably replace the feta with mozzarella.  The tang of the feta kind of fights with the honey vinegar dressing.  This would be good too without the chicken, but with a bunch of summer vegetables added in – peppers, squash, snow peas.  A little extra sweetness and crunch would be a nice addition.

An important note if you decide to make this.  Read the recipe all the way to the end.  It comes together really quickly and easily, but if you’ve never made pearled barley before you might not know how much time to allow for that.  You have to soak it an hour before you start to cook it.  And then it cooks about 20 minutes.  And then it has to cool to room temperature.  It’s a process.  I’d do that part the day before if you can.  Another note – you’ll almost never hear me say this, but use commercial stock.  You cook barley like pasta in that once it’s done you drain it.  Don’t use stock that you’d hate to pour down the sink.

Book club did a fine job making their way through this. I had enough leftover for a good lunch today.  This is a salad with a lot of possibilities.  The barley is chewy and nutty and good.  The dressing is light and sweet and tangy.  The tomatoes add a nice fresh flavor and the green onions add a little sharpness.  I have a feeling that some variation on this theme will be making an appearance at summer cookouts this year!

Good? Good.
Easy? Easy. But a little long.
Good for company? Worked for book club!
Special shopping? Nope.

Pearled Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Feta and Chicken

Ingredients

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups barley
2 C diced rotisserie chicken
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup chopped green onions

Directions

Rinse barley, and place in a small bowl. Cover with water by about two inches, and let soak for about an hour. Drain.

Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Stir in barley, reduce heat, cover, and boil until tender but still firm to bite, about 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to large wide bowl, tossing frequently until cool.

Mix tomatoes, chicken, feta, and green onions into barley. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve at room temperature.

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