Barley and White Bean Salad

I feel that one of the biggest hang ups we have as cooks is relying too much on recipes and not enough on cooking methods and knowing how the different elements in cooking work. I not only want to share recipes here at the Nourishing Gourmet, but I want to share methods as well (there is a method to my madness, after all!). Knowing methods helps us to know how to adjust recipes to our own taste preferences, and to what we have on hand. We can cook great things with recipes, but we will never become great cooks without understanding cooking methods.

So today, instead of just sharing a recipe, I want to explain the concept and the different elements of this recipe. This will give you the confidence not only to try this recipe, but to also make your own versions!

Cooking Concept

The concept is quite simple, in fact you may already pocess several recipes that build off of this concept. To use this cooking concept, you need the following elements.

*Cooked Grains/Legumes
*Vegetables-Raw or cooked
*A dressing
*Spices, herbs and other seasonings
*Meat- an optional addition

Wheat berries, buckwheat, quinoa, barley, are all ideas for grains. For your legumes, lentils (French lentils keep their shape better, so are better for salads), white beans, kidney beans, pinto, black beans, are just a few of the beans you could use. To this base you can also add leftover meats, like roasted chicken. Spices or herbs added to the dressing will add excitment and flavor, and vegetables will add nutrition, variety in textures and taste as well.

Make sure you pick a theme for your salad. Southwestern, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Roman, and Greek are a few ideas. Then after you know your theme, build your ingredients around that theme. I have also reversed that order. I find a grain or legume, and pick a theme to match what I have on hand.

My recipe, using this method, is a hearty, simple salad (the theme would definitely be either Roman or Italian), that is great for packed lunches. My sister asked for the recipe when she was over, so here it is, Christina! Just for you! 😉

This recipe uses barley (which I bought at a great price!), and small white breans as the base. Raw peppers add a crisp texture and flavor, and grilled zuchinni’s and corn add a tasty grilled flavor. I choose a simple dressing, with fresh basil from my garden to add a punch of flavor. This is a great do ahead meal, and one which my husband enjoys in his lunch. Another Nourishing Portable Food recipe! You can eat this directly (and we do), but it tastes best when allowed to chill a few hours. Serve cold or room temperature.

Barley and White Bean Salad
-Serves 6

A generous sprinkle of grated parmesean cheese would be a great addition for those who can have dairy!

1 heaping cup of hulled barley, soaked overnight with two tablespoons of vinegar added to the soaking water.
1 cup of small white beans, soaked overnight
1 medium green or red pepper, washed, seeded, and cubed
2 small zucchinis, grilled (cut the long way, and smear a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill on both sides over med-high heat on your grill until you see grill marks)
2 corn on the cobs, grilled

1/3 cup of vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar for a fresh, mild flavor. Red wine vinegar would add a more pungent flavor, balsamic would add a more sweet, very flavorful element)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon
2 teaspooons salt
2 overflowing tablespoons minced, fresh basil (or more to taste!)

1-In the morning, drain and rinse the barley and beans, seperately. In seperate pots, add enough water to cover the grain/legumes with an inch or two of water. Cook at a low simmer until cooked all the way through, but not mushy. They should still be semi-firm. My barley took 45 minutes, and my beans about an hour. Add water if necessary.

2-Drain any extra water away and rinse with cold water, drain well.

3-Combine in a large bowl. Add your vegetables

4-Combine the dressing ingredients, whisking to combine well. Pour over your salad and chill for at least a few hours.

5-When ready to serve, mix again, and taste test. I usually need to add more salt-make sure you have adequate amounts of salt! Salt makes the flavors “pop”, if you salad tastes bland, you probably need more salt! Serve and enjoy!

This post is part of Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. TucsonSLP says

    I would like to make this salad for guests tomorrow night but won’t be able to get to a whole foods store for the hulled barley until early tomorrow morning. Will it still work if I only soak the barley for 2-3 hours? In other words, do you know what the minimun soaking time is for hulled barley? Thank you! I’m loving your website and the joy and grace you put into your cooking.

  2. Kimi Harris says


    You actually don’t have to soak the barley at all. Just keep in mind that it will take longer to cook (one and a half hours). 🙂

  3. kd says

    oh my goodness. THIS IS MY PROBLEM! My husband does his best not to laugh his head off at me but I am a recipe freak! I ONLY “cook” using recipes. I have no creativity or imagination when it comes to cooking. Thanks for sharing the methodology, not just the recipe today! woot woot!

    I’m going crazy loving your blog. Can you move in with me so I can suck all of your knowledge out by osmosis?? 😀 I’m guessing at least a few people at your house wouldn’t like that so much. LOL

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