Barley Salad with Almonds and Parsley

After a long day's travel or during the midweek work slump, this barley salad is just the thing I want to eat. Chewy grain, toasted nuts, salty tangy cheese, and fresh herbs tossed with a lemon vinaigrette tastes refreshing and hearty. It's an easy and flexible dish to pull together. Yes, please.

Barley Salad with Almonds and Parsley (baby lettuce leaves are tucked in here)

Barley Salad with Almonds and Parsley (baby lettuce leaves are tucked in here)

Barley Salad with Almonds and Parsley 

Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine | May 2008

The original recipe uses walnuts instead of almonds which I think would be delicious. I didn't have walnuts on hand so I threw in toasted almonds instead.  I also used Mizithra cheese -- a fresh and fairly crumbly salty cheese made from goat or sheep's milk -- in place of the ricotta salata for the same reason. The idea is to get something toasty and crunchy from whatever nut (or seeds) you like, earthy chewiness from the grain, and salty umami from the cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups pearled barley (9 ounces)
  • 1 cup almonds (4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 4 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled (about 1 cup)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the barley over high heat until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the barley and rinse under cold water to cool thoroughly. Drain again, shaking out the excess water.

Meanwhile, spread the almonds in a pie plate and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Coarsely chop the nuts.

In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil, garlic and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Add the barley, parsley and ricotta salata and toss gently. Add the toasted almonds, toss again and serve.  Serves 6.

Make Ahead:  The salad can be refrigerated overnight.