Saturday, May 27, 2006

Recipe for Barley Salad with Mint and Lemon (and a bit about growing mint)

Hooray, it's time for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lucullian Delights this week. This weekend I'm blogging about mint, an herb I first posted about for Weekend Herb Blogging #7, back in November of 2005. Since that time I've had a lot of people write to me or leave comments about how they'd love to be able to grow their own herbs. If you're one of those people, mint is probably the easiest of all herbs to grow. It doesn't seem to need much attention, and thrives in places where other herbs probably wouldn't last. In fact, about the only problem with growing mint is the tendancy it has to travel, sending runners under the ground, and if you're not careful a small mint patch can completely overtake your lawn or garden.

I have a patch of mint about 25 feet by 2 feet along the east side of my garden, and there is a plastic barrier which helps keep the mint from traveling out into the rest of my garden.

Even with the plastic barrier, the mint tries to move around a little. Here's some mint that's just preparing to jump over the barrier as soon as I'm not watching!

There are so many wonderful things you can make with mint. I've already posted about things like Salad in a Cucumber Cup that has mint as a seasoning, Wake Up Your Mouth Thai Cucumber Salad which contains mint, Middle Eastern Tomato Salad which has cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, and mint, and last, but not least, Tabbouli with Almonds, one of my all time favorites. This time I wanted to make something brand new with my mint, so I went to FoodieView, one of my favorite places to find recipes online. I found a recipe there which had been adapted from Cooking Light, and then I adapted it some more to create this interesting blend of flavors. I thought this salad tasted just wonderful. If it looks a little "wet" in this photo, I realized that I put a little too much dressing and I changed the proportions a tiny bit in the recipe below.

Barley Salad with Lemon and Mint
(Makes 4 servings, recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

1 cup pearl barley
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt (I used Real Salt, a local Utah product)
1 cup chopped mint (or less)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 T capers, drained well
10 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped small

Dressing Ingredients:
2-3 T fresh lemon juice
(use the smaller amount if you don't love lemon as much as I do)
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. Greek Seasoning (Penzeys recommended)

Bring water to a boil, add salt and barley, stir, and cook covered for 30 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. Let sit covered a few minutes, then put into plastic mixing bowl and let cool.

While barley is cooking, wash mint and finely chop. (I pull the mint from the stems and wash in a salad spinner, spin very dry, and then chop in a food processor.) Chop tomatoes and let drain in colander for at least 15 minutes. Chop olives and onion.

Combine dressing ingredients in small glass jar and shake well.

When barley is cooled, combine with mint, tomato, red onion, capers, and olives. Pour dressing over and stir a few times to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Mint tends to overtake other flavors when it sits overnight in the refrigerator, but I'm very happy to report that the salad was wonderful after being in the fridge overnight. In fact, I think refrigerating for a few hours before serving might even make the flavors blend together a little better, and I usually never recommend refrigerating fresh tomatoes.

About Ingredients:
Penzeys Greek Seasoning contains salt, oregano, garlic, lemon zest, black pepper, and marjoram. Another brand of Greek Seasoning that I like the flavor of is Cavender's Greek Seasoning. However, the Cavender's brand does contain MSG, which some people are sensitive to.
counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. That salad looks so good! I was just thinking I needed to find some good barley recipes!

  2. Kalyn - your salad looks wonderful! I have loads of barley left in my cupboard at the moment, and it's a bit too late to make heartwarming barley porridge, so a salad would be a great alternative. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Just want to assure people that herbs are the easiest things in the world to grow. If it's a perenniel, like mint, all you have to do is stick it in the ground, and make sure it doesn't dry out TOO much - mine even tolerate some dryness. All the following are plants I bought for less than $2 each and have been giving me herbs for years with no other care: rosemary (didn't even pay for that one, just got a sprig from a neighbor), thyme, chives, mint, lemon thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram, and winter savory. It's wonderful to just be able to go outside and snip herbs for dinner.


  4. Wow Kalyn, 25 x 2 feet? That's a lot of mint. My mint is starting to take over the pot which basil, thyme, parsley and coriander also reside in. I should have put it in its own pot!

  5. Michele and Pille, I hope you like it. Michele - you could sub regular olives to make it more kid-friendly.

    Laura, I didn't mean to imply that herbs are hard to grow, but mint is the easiest of all.

    Mae, yes I do have a huge patch of mint. I'm lucky to have a very big garden space.

  6. This sounds so nice and refreshing, I think I'll try it out tomorrow.

  7. Oh, that reminds me that I haven't made anything with barley for some time. It's looks delicious. I have some mint that has escaped in my yard. I hate to get rid of it because the minty smell is so nice when you walk on it. Sometimes I think it would be very nice to have my lawn made up with mint!

  8. The tables have turned. You have summer and your fresh herbs and I'm in winter without them. Actually, that's not quite true. It's fairly mild here so I still have some Basil. You remind me that I must do my winter planting.

  9. kalyn-thanks for the recipes! i have some mint growing that some how just appeared to pop up this year (i did not plant it, nor had it growing the past 2's somewhat a mystery), but unknown what to cook with it other than garnishing plates, and making mojitos (which is not a bad use).

  10. I love mint and that salad looks particularly delicious.

    I also feel bad...I was so busy this weekend with hosting the Sugar High Friday - Ginger edition, I had no time for anything else.


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

And if you really like the recipe, Pins, Shares, Tweets, and Yums are always appreciated!

Blogging tips