Mediterranean Barley Salad

5 from 2 votes

This recipe for Mediterranean barley salad is easy to prepare and is bursting with a menagerie of intense flavors. Tender grains and vegetables are infused with smoky cumin and spicy sweet cardamom before being dressed in a cool, creamy bath of tahini yogurt sauce and pops of refreshing pomegranate seeds.

overhead: Mediterranean barley salad with tahini yogurt dressing on a plate

This Mediterranean barley salad recipe has it all! This dish comes complete with smoky spices, tender grains, sauteed veggies, fresh herbs, and a divinely delicious sauce. It is also one of those recipes that will fill you up without slowing you down. 

You are going to love the way that the cooling tahini sauce complements the sweet, warm earthiness of the barley and sauteed veggies. Top off your Mediterranean barley salad with a handful of plump pomegranate seeds and freshly toasted pine nuts and get ready to swoon!

closeup: warm vegetable salad

For more barley recipes, check out my Egyptian Barley Salad, Pineapple Shrimp Barley Salad, and this Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Barley.

overhead: ingredients for Mediterranean barley salad

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Tahini Yogurt Sauce – This satiny smooth sauce is a simple combination of rich Greek yogurt, bright lemon, sweet mint, earthy tahini, salt, and pepper. It adds a cooling, creamy element that beautifully compliments the warmer flavors in the dish.
  • Pearl Barley – Also labeled as pearled barley, this quick-cooking variety of barley has had the outer husk and bran removed. It has a mild flavor and soft texture. 
  • Olive Oil – Olive oil is ideal for Mediterranean cooking. In a pinch, however, you can use an oil like canola, grapeseed, or avocado instead. 
  • Veggies – Carrots and snow peas are expertly seasoned and sauteed until perfectly tender. 
  • Spices – This Mediterranean barley salad recipe boasts an all-star line-up of spices including lemony coriander, smoky cumin, and spicy-sweet cardamom. 
  • Garnishes Sweet toasted pine nuts, tart pomegranate seeds, cool mint leaves, and silky tahini sauce turn ordinary barley salad into a mouthwatering Mediterranean masterpiece.
overhead: barley salad with tahini yogurt dressing

How to Make Mediterranean Barley Salad

  1. Make the Tahini Yogurt Sauce. Combine the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, mint leaves, tahini, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and blended and set aside. 
  2. Boil the Barley. Place a large pot with salted water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and stir in the pearled barley. Return to a boil and continue cooking for about 20 minutes, until tender. 
  3. Drain & Toss. Drain the cooked barley well and then transfer to a large bowl. Gently toss with 2 teaspoons of chopped mint leaves and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt as desired, cover to keep warm, and set the bowl aside. 
  4. Cut the Carrots. While the barley boils, you can prepare the veggies. Start by trimming and then chopping the carrots into uniform pieces. I like to start by halving them crosswise and then cutting those pieces in half lengthwise. 
  5. Cook the Carrots. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let it get hot enough to just start smoking. Toss in the chopped carrots and ½ teaspoon of coriander. Saute the carrots until they are lightly charred and tender, usually about 5-7 minutes. Make sure you are occasionally stirring throughout. 
  6. Add Veggies & Spices. Now you can add in the snow peas, cumin, cardamom, salt, and the remainder of the coriander. Cook the mixture for 3-5 minutes, until spotty brown, then transfer to the bowl with the cooked barley. 
  7. Toast the Pine Nuts. Carefully use a paper towel to wipe out the skillet you just used to cook the vegetables. Return the skillet to heat and add in the pine nuts. Stirring constantly, cook them for around 2 minutes, or until they turn a nice golden brown. Set aside. 
  8. Toss the Salad. Give the barley and roasted vegetable mixture a thorough tossing to evenly mix. Transfer Mediterranean barley salad to a large serving platter or divide it into individual serving bowls. 
  9. Garnish & Serve. Generously drizzle tahini yogurt sauce over the top, followed by a sprinkling of pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and mint leaves.
closeup: warm mediterranean barley salad on a plate with vegetables

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Have To Soak Barley Before Using It?

No. Since this Mediterranean barley salad recipe uses pearl barley, there is no need to soak prior to cooking. 

However, if you are cooking hulled or whole-grain barley, go ahead and soak your grains for a few hours. 

What Goes Well With Mediterranean Barley Salad?

This dish can be enjoyed on its own as a snack or light meal, and it also makes an excellent side dish for tons of different dishes.

Pair this Mediterranean barley salad recipe with Greek Yogurt Chicken, Marinated Tahini Chicken, or any of your favorite chicken dishes. 

Barley salad also goes great with lamb dishes like Lamb Shawarma or these Greek Lamb Meatballs.

How Long Does Mediterranean Barley Salad Last In The Fridge?

When kept in an airtight container, Mediterranean barley salad will last for 3-4 days in the fridge.

If you know you’ll have leftovers, you can keep the warm and cold ingredients separate until you plan on eating them again. Then you can easily reheat the grains and add the drizzle and garnishes.

Alternatively, you can assemble all the ingredients before storage and enjoy this dish cold.

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Mediterranean Barley Salad

5 from 2 votes
Mediterranean Barley Salad features tender pearl barley, spicy sautéed veggies, and a sinfully silky tahini yogurt sauce.
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 42 minutes
Total: 57 minutes


Tahini Yogurt Sauce


  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mint leaves minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs small whole carrots peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 8 oz snow peas strings removed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
  • Tahini Yogurt Sauce (see above)
  • Mint leaves


  • In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest and juice, mint, tahini, water, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Bring 6 cups of salted water to boil in large pot. Add barley and return to boil. Cook until tender, 20 minutes. Drain barley, transfer to bowl with the 2 teaspoons of mint and 2 tablespoons olive oil, tossing to combine. Cover to keep warm. Season with salt to taste.
  • While barley cooks, trim and halve carrots crosswise, then halve or quarter lengthwise to create uniformly sized pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add carrots and ½ teaspoon coriander and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in snow peas, salt, cumin, cardamom, remaining ½ teaspoon coriander and cook until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with barley.
  • Using paper towel, wipe clean now-empty skillet. Add pine nuts and toast to golden brown, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • Toss the barley roasted vegetable mixture to combine and pour onto platter or individual bowls. Drizzle tahini yogurt sauce all over, sprinkle with pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, mint leaves, and serve.



Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.


Calories: 531kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 630mg | Potassium: 1143mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 38539IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 167mg | Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): Mediterranean barley salad


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I am asking you to rack your brain to see if you recognize this recipe. I have tried in vain many times to replicate it here in the US.

    I once had a ‘spinach dish’ in a very very dark Mediterranean (?) restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, that was so good! I have searched for it everywhere. I was wondering if you might know of it; the name of it starts with a ‘Z’, but the word naming it is not one of a language that I recognized. It was not a Saag of any kind; there were no Indian flavorings that I could recognize.

    The cooked, fresh (?) spinach was served covering the entire salad-size plate. There seemed to be in it: olive oil, dill (?), parsley (?), finely chopped black olives (?), maybe finely chopped Kalamata olives (?), and some other spice/s (?). There was no cheese/white stuff that I could see. The dish was eaten hot, scooped up on warm pita bread as an appetizer. It was wonderful! After we finished off the first serving, we – because no one there knew us – ordered a second serving!

    After we ate our entrée, which was not memorable after the spinach dish, there was a belly dancer that performed in the middle of the room. This was a very small ‘restaurant’, down a long flight of stairs, in one of the prefectures there in Tokyo.

    I have searched every cookbook I have gotten my hands on for this recipe!!! Would you happen to know what’s in it? Thanks and best wishes! Emily

    1. I wish I could be of more assistance Emily, but it sounds more like a recipe they made for the restaurant. If you ever find out, let me knoW, I’m intrigued.

  2. 5 stars
    will be making this soon with few subs will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya