This Egyptian barley salad has pearl barley, pomegranate arils and a tangy herb vinaigrette. Make this recipe for a refreshing side dish!
Everything about this barley salad recipe screams fresh, brilliant, and delicious! The heart healthy grain makes the perfect addition and pairs beautifully with the fresh herbs, pomegranate seeds, garlic, and spices.
I could eat this salad once a week and never grow tired of it. If you love to eat salads, you should also try out my Lebanese Salad. The tangy creamy lemon vinaigrette is unforgettable.
Ingredient Notes for Egyptian Barley Salad
For a complete list of ingredients, see the printable recipe card below.
- Pearl Barley - High in fiber and nutrients, the heart healthy grain makes a beautiful addition to many recipes. Each serving has iron, vitamin B6, potassium, zinc, and so much more!
- Celery - I like to dice celery reasonably small, so it’s easier to eat. Feel free to add extra if you are a celery fan.
- Sherry vinaigrette - For the dressing, I like to use a combination of olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt, and pepper. It’s tangy and adds some extra pizzazz to the pomegranate salad.
- Garlic - I usually stick to around two cloves of minced garlic, but you can certainly add in more if you'd like.
- Herbs - Adding fresh herbs gives the dish tons and tons of flavor. Dill, parsley, and mint are so fantastic together, so it just makes sense to include them.
- Pomegranate Arils (Seeds) - You can purchase the seeds alone, or buy the whole fruit and take the seeds out. Buying them ready to use is going to save you a step, and I do this sometimes when I am in a huge hurry.
Cooking Pearl Barley
It’s pretty easy to make, but I wanted to point out a few things before you get started so it turns out good every time.
It really doesn’t matter what dish you are making; you should always rinse barley with cool water. This ensures that there isn’t any leftover debris or dust from when it was harvested, and it also eliminates some of the starch.
2. Consider what variety you are using.
There are several different varieties available, so be mindful of what you are looking for when shopping. The reason why I recommend using pearl is that it’s been processed. This means, the outer layer and hull have been removed.
3. Don’t overcook it!
Trust me on this one. If your Egyptian barley salad is mushy, you are likely to lose interest really quickly.
When adding water to the pot, it’s essential to use 2 cups of water per 1 cup of barley. This will prevent it from absorbing too much liquid and becoming sticky. Another important step is to not let it cook too long. You can do a quick taste test when it’s about done, so you know if it’s the right texture or not.
How To Make Egyptian Barley Salad
1. Prepare the sherry vinaigrette.
Whisk together the olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, and spices in a bowl. Set it aside while you cook the grain so the flavors can develop properly.
2. Cook the barley.
Wait to salt the water until after it comes to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
NOTE: There may be excess water in the pot that the grain didn't soak up, and that's fine. Just place the barley in a colander to drain off the liquid.
3. Add the dressing.
Drizzle the vinaigrette over the cooked grains and stir to coat well. Let it cool down to room temperature before you add the fresh herbs. Otherwise, they tend to wilt/cook.
4. Add in the remaining ingredients.
Add the fresh herbs, celery, salt, and pepper to the Egyptian barley salad.
This is a super versatile side dish, and it can be served at room temperature or chilled. If you'd like to add some protein, the salad is fantastic with rotisserie chicken or grilled salmon added to it.
I also think it's fantastic with lamb koobideh, Moroccan kefta, and/or chicken tikka kebab.
Egyptian Barley Salad
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 6 celery stalks diced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice heaping
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
- 3 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh mint chopped
- 1 ½ cups pomegranate seeds (arils) (See Note 1)
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Rinse barley with cold water several times until water runs clear.
- Transfer to saucepan filled with heavily salted water. Bring to a boil and turn to simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large salad bowl.
- While barley is hot, add the dressing, toss to coat and mix thoroughly. Allow to cool at room temperature.
- Add the celery, herbs and pomegranate seeds. Mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve room temperature or chilled if you prefer.
- You can either use the seeds from 2 pomegranates or purchase just the seeds. I find 4 or 8 oz containers from the brand Pom Pom in my market in the refrigerated vegetable/fruit section of the market. Purchase at least 2 for 1 ½ cups. Save remaining for other use.
- Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.