Thursday, June 30, 2011

Healthy AND Great Tasting? Try My Favorite Barley Black Bean Salad!

I love crock-pot cooking—just not in the spring and summer. I used to love pasta salad, but the vinaigrette and mayo based versions lost their appeal in the 1980's. (Thai peanut noodles, however, I could eat any day of the week!) So when I'm looking for a wholesome, convenient meal or side dish, this whole grain, satisfying summer salad does the trick. If you’re looking to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, give this a try. It’s delicious and won’t disappoint.

You can't go wrong with this recipe for barley black bean salad, and it's many variations. (Okay, maybe you think you don't like beans. But I promise, in this recipe, you're sure to enjoy them.) 

First, there's the nutritional merit. It's high in soluble fiber—the same type of fiber found in oatmeal. Soluble fiber causes a slower rise in blood sugar, compared to the same amount of other carbohydrate containing foods. As a result, it tends to satisfy longer. This fiber also has been shown to assist in lowering blood cholesterol levels and help with blood sugar management.  It provides a simple way to combine a range of nutrients into one easy plate, including valuable complex carbohydrate, protein, vegetables, and heart healthy fats. (3 grains, 1 protein and 1/2 a fat serving based on the simple version).

The base recipe is rather light on the fats, but they could be boosted for those in need with additions such as avocado, feta or goat cheese, added afterwards. Extra protein, in addition to the protein supplied by the beans, could be added from diced, leftover chicken or turkey, or from added cheese.

Besides being easy to prepare, it's a convenient way to plan ahead and have a balanced meal waiting for you.

Oh, and did I mention it tastes great?

Barley Black Bean Salad
(serves ~10, 1 ½ cup servings--perfect for a family, but cut in half if you are cooking for 1 or 2)

Pearl barley (not the quick cook)
Black beans, 2 cans, low salt, rinsed thoroughly (if you prefer, you can use dried beans, cooked instead of canned)
scallion, 3-4 large
red pepper, 1 large (more can't hurt!)
cilantro, chopped, ¾ - 1 cup
olive oil, 2 Tbsp.
lime juice, 4 Tbsp.
salt, ¾ tsp

Cook barley. Place 6 cups water in large saucepan and bring to boil.  Add 2 cups pearl barley. Return to boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Makes about 6 to 7 cups. Rinse cooked barley.
Add rinsed beans and all other ingredients. Mix well.
Refrigerate then serve.

Want to vary the leftover? Consider the following additions:

Diced, fresh tomatoes
corn, fresh or frozen (microwave, then drain first if adding frozen)
green pepper
red onion instead of scallion
crumbled goat cheese or feta
diced chicken
hot pepper flakes


  1. Thank you for this recipe! I do love the chewy texture and nutty flavor that barley has. This is right up my ally, especially since I'm trying to become better friends with olive oil!


  2. definitely had me sold with the pic of the coriander (cilantro) - yum! Easily the full cup - and then some more for garnish!!

  3. I am wondering if you have the recipe for that wonderful looking cornbread that was posted in January? I would love to know it if you do.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Super delicious!

    1. So glad you liked it! It is one of many recipes in our soon to be released book!