Sunday, March 25, 2012

Recipe for Lentil and Barley Greek-Style Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, and Capers

A wonderful meatless barley and lentil salad to welcome spring!

I bet I'm not the only salad-obsessed person who starts thinking about new salad combinations as soon as the weather gets warmer.  It's no secret that I love salads of every type, but I think grain and bean salads are especially nice in spring, when it's not really hot weather but you're getting in the mood for lighter meals.  I loved the idea of a salad combining barley and lentils, and it worked perfectly with the tomatoes, Feta, capers, and a Greek-style vinaigrette for a lovely meatless salad.  There are many types of lentils, and you can probably use any green or brown lentils here, but I used lentils du puy, a green lentil from France that holds its shape well in a salad.

My recipe is adapted from one I found in Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday.  When I spotted this book at Costco, I had to buy it because one of the co-authors is my blogging friend Julie Van Rosendaal (from Dinner with Julie) and it was exciting to see a book in Costco with her name on it!  There are so many food bloggers writing cookbooks these days that I realized long ago I could not talk about most of them, but Julie's book is so well aligned with my personal way of eating that I've now got post-its marking page after page in the book, and this book is one I am happy to recommend.  (Blogger disclosure:  If you can't find the book at Costco, you can follow the link above and buy it from, in which case Kalyn's Kitchen does earn a few cents on the dollar, so thanks!)

Of course this lovely salad is my Meatless Monday post for the coming Monday.  (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch.  For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.)

The book said you could cook the barley and green lentils together, but since I was using lentils du puy that had been in my pantry for a while, I decided to keep them separate.  (I did take Julie's advice and cooked double the barley and lentils so I'd have some for the freezer, so double the amount given in the recipe if you want to do that.)

I should have used bigger pans because I had to add water a few times, but it worked out. 

While the lentils and barley are cooking, dice enough tomatoes or cherry tomatoes to make one cup.

Also slice the green onions, crumble the feta, and measure out 2 tablespoons of capers.

The barley cooked in 45 minutes, and I drained it while the lentils finished cooking.

My older lentils took 55 minutes, but if you had fresh lentils from the store I'm guessing it would have worked well to cook them together with the barley.

I combined half the lentils in a bowl as the base of the salad and let them cool for about 20 minutes.  (I froze the rest in two separate containers so I can easily make the salad another time.)

For the dressing, mix together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Greek seasoning, and minced garlic, and then whisk in the olive oil a little at a time.

Then stir in enough dressing so the barley and lentils are well-moistened.  (I didn't use all the dressing but I saved it to add to the salad after it had been refrigerated.)

Gently stir in the tomatoes, feta, and capers and serve salad.  (I normally never refrigerate tomatoes, but this was still very good even after being refrigerated overnight.  You could also mix tomatoes into just the part you were eating right away and add tomatoes later to the refrigerated salad.)

Lentil and Barley Greek-Style Salad with Tomatoes, Feta, and Capers
(Makes about 6 servings; recipe adapted from Lentil and Barley Salad in Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday.)

Salad Ingredients:
1/2 cup small green or brown lentils (I used French lentils du puy, but any green or brown lentil will work.)
1/2 cup pearl barley
(You might want to cook twice the amount of lentils and barley and freeze the extra so you can make the salad again.)
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup crumbled Feta 
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 T capers (or less if you are not a fan of capers; could also use Kalamata olives sliced in half.)

Dressing Ingredients:
3 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Greek seasoning (I used The Spice House Greektown Seasoning; Greek seasoning has garlic, dried lemon, oregano, salt and pepper.)
1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the lentils and barley with the garlic slices and water to cover by a couple of inches, and cook  until they are tender.  (If your lentils are fairly fresh you can cook them with the barley, for about 45 minutes total cooking time.  If your lentils have been in the pantry a while I'd probably cook the barley and lentils separately, because lentils take much longer to cook when they are older.)

While lentils and barley are cooking, dice tomatoes or cut the cherry tomatoes in half, thinly slice the green onions, crumble the Feta, and measure out the capers.  Mix together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Greek seasoning, and minced garlic and then whisk in the olive oil a little at a time to make the dressing.

When lentils and barley are tender, drain them well, discarding the garlic, and then combine in a bowl large enough to fit all the salad ingredients.  Let lentils and barley cool for about 20 minutes, then stir in enough dressing so they're well moistened.  (You won't need all the dressing, but save the extra to re-moisten the salad after it's been refrigerated or to use on a green salad.)  Add the diced tomatoes, green onions, feta, and capers and gently combine.  Serve salad slightly warm or at room temperature.

I usually never refrigerate tomatoes, but this salad was still very good after it had been refrigerated.  Let salad come to room temperature and re-moisten with the leftover dressing after refrigerating if desired.  (Next time I might just add tomatoes to the part I was going to eat and add the tomatoes to the leftover salad as I ate it.)

South Beach Suggestions:
Lentils and barley are both the type of low-glycemic ingredients that the South Beach Diet recommends, and this salad is a great choice for Phase 2 or 3 of the diet.

More Meatless Salads with Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Lebanese Lentil Salad with Garlic, Cumin, Mint, and Parsley from Kalyn's Kitchen
Black Bean and Lentil Salad with Red Bell Pepper, Cumin, and Cilantro from Kalyn's Kitchen
French Green Lentil Salad from David Lebovitz
Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad from Kath Eats Real Food
Warm Green Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions, Feta Cheese, and Pears from Andrea Meyers
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. Here is another salad obsessed person :-) I love barley too, in any form.
    This salad looks really flavorful n rich textured too.

  2. Loving this Greek-inspired dish Kalyn!

  3. I love salads like this because they're great leftover, and can be a quick snack or a small meal with no effort. I make a similar salad with quinoa and chickpeas.

  4. I've always loved the flavors of Greek salad but have kind of wished it were a bit more substantial...this is the version I've been dreaming of!

  5. From one feta loving gal to another, this looks amazing! Just the kind of salad I like to prepare and have on hand to nosh on through the week. I've never thought of combing lentils and barley but I bet the combo is wonderful and filling. Happy Monday to you, Kalyn!!

  6. Sangeeta, loved this new salad!

    Val, thanks. Glad you liked it!

    Luana, I love having a salad like this in the fridge.

    Joanne, I loved the chewiness in this salad.

  7. Kelley, we were writing comments at the same time I guess! I did love this combination!

  8. I'm with you on loving salads, but pretty much all year long. I haven't used lentils in one yet and will have to practice to do it because when I cook lentils -- even gently -- they're pretty soft. Love the flavors in this!

  9. Oh, this hits all the flavor notes for me. I love barley and lentils together, and I usually serve it in some hot, casserole-like side dish. To lighten up these ingredients into a salad is inspired, and I can't wait to try it.

  10. I'm so excited to try this! Love your tip on doubling the grains and freezing. I'm SO doing that. It's worth the time saved.


  11. Kelly some types of lentils will stay firm much better than others. The green lentils du puy are great, and slightly chewy in the salad.

    Thanks Lydia! I really loved the combination.

    Becky I love the idea of having the barley and lentils ready in the freezer to make this again!

  12. I made this tonight for my family. Such a wholesome delicious salad!! I also added roasted eggplant and onions. And, since I had them, I threw in small diced carrots and celery. Thank you so much for inspiring me to make healthy good things for my family. So glad I found your blog!! Jessi, Tallahassee FL

  13. Jessica, so glad you liked it and I like the way you added more veggies.

  14. We enjoy salads especially main dish ones. This looks wonderful and we will give it a try. Thanks.

  15. I am a huge Greek salad lover - what a great idea using lentils and barley. I agree, a nice way to transition into Spring.

  16. This salad looks very nice. I tend to like my lentils warm, but I am open to a different experience.

  17. Cajunville, hope you enjoy.

    Jeanette, this had most of the flavors in Greek salad with more chewiness!

    Simona, you could eat this slightly warm, but I liked it room temperature best.

  18. The salad was delicious! I followed it almost exactly, with the addition of a green bell pepper for the extra fiber :) I've actually made it twice since running across the recipe on pinterest a week ago!! You must have great self-control to have gotten 6 servings out of it. My husband and I couldn't stop eating it! :)

  19. So glad you enjoyed it! I think green pepper sounds like a great addition.

  20. What about substituting quinoa or Bulghur?? I'm going to make the salad this weekend as is, but wonder what you think about substitutions. Love your blog!

  21. I did love the barley in this so I would probably use bulgur if you don't have that.


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