Egyptian Barley Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Some of you may recall seeing this barley salad on my Instagram feed over the summer, when I was in my Middle Eastern cooking phase after returning from Israel. The recipe is modestly adapted from The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, and I’ve been waiting until pomegranates were in season to share it with you. Inspired by the flavors of Egypt, the salad contains crunchy pistachios, tangy pomegranate molasses, and cilantro, all balanced by warm, earthy spices and sweet golden raisins. Chunks of feta, scallions, and pomegranate seeds adorn the top of the dish, making a gorgeous composed salad with lively flavors and textures. It’s wonderful!

how to make barley salad

Begin by cooking the barley. In order for the grains to remain distinct, rather than cohesive as in a pilaf, America’s Test Kitchen uses the “pasta method” to boil the barley.

how to make barley salad

Drain the barley, then spread it on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

how to make barley salad

Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, cumin, and salt. (Note that pomegranate molasses is sold at some large grocers, Whole Foods, or Middle Eastern markets. You can also buy it online.)

how to make barley salad

Toss with the cooled barley, cilantro, raisins, and pistachios.

how to make barley salad

Spread the barley salad evenly onto a serving platter and arrange feta, scallions, and pomegranate seeds in diagonal rows on top. Drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.

how to make barley salad

(Note: I made a few minor changes to the recipe. To see the original, click here.)

My Recipe Videos

Egyptian Barley Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Servings: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups pearl barley (do not substitute hulled barley or hull-less barley)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (parsley may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios or walnuts, chopped coarse
  • 4 oz feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (you'll need 4 to 6 scallions)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Instructions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add barley and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until tender, about 45 minutes, or according to package instructions. Drain barley, spread onto rimmed baking sheet, and let cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add the barley, cilantro, raisins, and pistachios (or walnuts) and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread barley salad evenly on serving platter and arrange feta, scallions, and pomegranate seeds in separate diagonal rows on top. Drizzle with extra oil and serve.
  4. Make Ahead: The cooked barley and vinaigrette can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. To serve, bring barley and vinaigrette to room temperature, whisk vinaigrette to recombine, and continue with step 3, seasoning to taste as necessary. Dressed salad can be held up to 2 hours at room temperature before serving.
  5. Note: Pomegranate molasses is sold at some large grocers, Whole Foods or Middle Eastern markets. You can also buy it online.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 326
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 44 g
  • Sugar: 15 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Sodium: 212 mg
  • Cholesterol: 13 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • I looked at 5 stores and called a few others. No pom molasses. 🙁

    • — Gail on November 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sorry to hear you’ve had such a hard time finding it. You can order it online if you’re really determined to make the salad. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on November 26, 2018
      • Reply
  • Loved it! I think it would even be great without feta. It was full of flavor.

    • — Olga on November 19, 2018
    • Reply
  • I prepared this recipe last Christmas. It was a huge hit and cannot wait to prepare it again. Since then I have discovered how much I love pearl barley. If anyone is wondering about this recipe wonder no more. It’s a 10!

    • — Joy on November 8, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!!
    What are your thoughts on substituting in farro for the barley?
    -Kim

    • — Kim Rivers on October 14, 2018
    • Reply
    • That would be perfectly fine here – enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 15, 2018
      • Reply
  • Outstanding recipe – easy to make and full of flavor. We loved it! Will definitely make this again.

    • — Lorrie D on July 7, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Served this with your Grilled Moroccan Chicken. Yum and so pretty! We both loved it…however, wondered what you would suggest to “kick it up” a bit in the spice dept.? I read the mint/cilantro idea and will try that next time. Also, I did halve it successfully if anyone wondered.

    • — Charlene on March 8, 2018
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it, Charlene. I think you could definitely bump up the cumin and add some heat (cayenne or chili peppers).

      • — Jenn on March 8, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I am having a party and we are about 25 people. How much should i make?

    Tahera

    • — Tahera on December 8, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Tahera, I’d probably multiply all the ingredients by 4 to 5 depending upon how substantial the rest of your meal will be. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 8, 2017
      • Reply
  • Can the barley and dressing be prepared a day or two ahead?

    • — Tahera on December 5, 2017
    • Reply
    • Definitely! For more details, see the “Make Ahead” section immediately under the recipe instructions. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 5, 2017
      • Reply
  • I made this for a holiday potluck and it was a big hit. Some of the guests do not eat dairy, so had the feta on one side and chick peas on the other. I also added a row of Kalamata olives which fit in perfectly with the other ingredients. It was a beautiful presentation on my Italian ceramic platter.

    • — Rasa on December 3, 2017
    • Reply
  • I made this dish just before Thanksgiving and my family raved about it…even my son-in-law and my 5yr old grandson! My daughter is not a big fan of too much cilantro so I altered the recipe and changed the potion of cilantro to half mint and half cilantro. It was a hit!

    • — Renee Shields on November 30, 2017
    • Reply
  • just the thing needed at my house after the big Thanksgiving indulgence – – Thank You!! Enjoyed trying so many of your recipes as you were preparing to publish, and now can’t wait to try this one too!

  • I’ll make this over and over again, Yummy!

  • Just made barley as part of my Thanksgiving contribution instead of stuffing. Great recipe. Thanks

    • — JaneDough on November 30, 2017
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I am trying to order pomegranate molasses on -line and I notice that some products are with sugar and some are without… can you please tell me which you prefer.
    Can’t wait to try the Egyptian barley salad…I am sure it will be 5 stars— ALL your recipes are!
    Many thanks!
    Barb

    • — Barb on November 9, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Barb, Glad you’re enjoying the recipes! The one I use does have some sugar – you can get the same one online here.

      • — Jenn on November 9, 2017
      • Reply
  • What would you pair this with?

    • — Lee Ann on November 7, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Lee Ann, In staying with the Middle Eastern theme, this would be nice paired with my Falafel or these Zucchini Fritters.

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2017
      • Reply
  • Amazing! Slam dunk as usual. I used balsamic reduction and it worked out just fine. Thanks!!

    • — Melissa on October 29, 2017
    • Reply
  • I love your website. I get so many wonderful recipes… I made this tonight but I made a few exchanges. I used Farro instead of barley and goat cheese instead of feta. I also added one more tablespoon of oil as well as a teaspoon of honey. The results were delicious.

    • Thank you, Susan! 💜 So glad you loved the salad.

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2017
      • Reply
  • This salad is amazing. I forgot to pick up cilantro so just added more coriander. I could eat it for three meals a day! So nutritious as well!

    • — Josie on October 5, 2017
    • Reply
  • Amazing middle eastern medley meal! The pomegranate molasses adds so much flavor to the well-balanced dressing. The bits of raisin and pomegranate seeds burst with flavor as you eat one spoonful after another. I personally don’t do dairy or oil and was easily able to convert this recipe to that by using a vegetable stock instead of oil and used tofu cubes baked with nutritional yeast and onion salt for the feta. But I actually preferred to skip the tofu/feta and just eat the grain. I like to add a bean, so considered french lentils for my next attempt at this recipe. The pomegranate molasses was not available in my neighborhood, but it was easy to make by reducing pomegranate juice on the stove top. I also thought of adding dried barberries or red currents instead of the raisins. This is going to be one of my stables with many expressions depending what is in the fridge. Very elegant for Christmas with the red/green combo. Thank you so much Jenn for this amazing recipe and sharing your inspirations with all of us. Happy Holiday cooking!

    • — Maureen on October 5, 2017
    • Reply
  • Hello! This recipe looks fabulous, but I really don’t want to buy pomegranate molasses just to try it. Is there a adequate substitution, or should I leave it out?

    • — i-rod on October 1, 2017
    • Reply
    • You could try a balsamic glaze but you might need to reduce the sugar in the recipe. Please lmk how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2017
      • Reply
  • I’m allergic to gluten. Could this be done with a gluten free grain like rice or quinoa? What would you recommend?

    • — Lisa on September 30, 2017
    • Reply
    • Sure, Lisa. I’d probably go with a wild rice blend. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on September 30, 2017
      • Reply
  • I eat a vegan diet. Would you recommend just leaving the feta out, or is there something else you might add as a substitute?

    • Hi, you could replace the feta with a combination of chickpeas (for their creaminess) and either olives or capers (or both!) for their salty/briny flavor. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on September 29, 2017
      • Reply

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