Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer Barley Salad and Hulled vs. Pearled Barley

The fresh sage is thriving in my garden this summer.  Add to that the presence of some bell peppers in the fridge that needed to be used up, and the happy coincidence of olives and gherkin pickles just waiting to turn into something yummy, it was obvious I needed to make one of my favorite barley salads.

Only problem was...I didn't have barley.

Correction, I had barley, but it was hulled barley, not the pearled barley I normally use in this recipe.  Most recipes call for pearled barley, which has had both the hull and the bran removed.  Hulled barley has also had the hull removed, but the bran is still intact.  Hulled barley looks and tastes different than pearled barley.

Pictured is pearled barley on the left, hulled barley on the right.  The difference in taste?  Since my husband is used to eating pearled barley, which I would describe as tasting like denser, chewier brown rice, I explained that hulled barley tastes "squeaky."  You have to eat it to understand exactly what I mean.  The barley cooks up plump and pleasantly chewy, adding a cool texture to soups and salads that you probably don't have in your normal toolkit.

When I cook hulled barley, I use the same portions of water to barley as I would for pearled barley, but I cook it about 20-25% longer than I would pearled barley.

Whether you use hulled barley or pearled barley, it's packed with good nutrition, and is known for regulating blood sugar and glucose response, as the Wikipedia article on barley agrees.

It also tastes awesome in this Summer Barley Salad!

Summer Barley Salad


  • 1 C barley (uncooked)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced (green works, too)
  • 1/4 C sweet gherkin pickles, sliced
  • 1/2 C pitted black olives, chopped
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil (split 1+2)
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 C chopped sage leaves
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 C bread crumbs with Italian seasoning (I use whole wheat, panko would work great, too)
  • 1/2 C crumbled or diced feta
  • fine sea salt to taste (I like1/4 t)

  • Pressure cook the barley in 1 3/4 C water with a little sea salt for 21 minutes (pearled barley) or 26 minutes (hulled barley).  Or boil in a stock pot according to package directions.  Rinse to cool and drain thoroughly.
  • Chop the veggies, pickles, and olives.  
  • Put 1 T olive oil in a nonstick pan and sauté the sage, cayenne, and breadcrumbs in that order.  
  • Make a little salad dressing of the remaining oil and the vinegar.  
  • Put everything in the bowl and stir!  
You can serve this room temperature when you first make it.  Tastes great cold, too.
Serves 6-8

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