Egyptian Barley Salad
This recipe is featured in "The Complete Make-Ahead Cookbook: From Appetizers to Desserts by America's Test Kitchen"
Why This Recipe Works
We set out to create a vibrant pearl barley salad with a balance of sweetness, tang, and nuttiness. First, we had to find a consistent cooking method for the barley. We turned to what we call the “pasta method,” in which we simply boil the grains until tender. Inspired by the flavors of Egypt, we incorporated toasty pistachios, tangy pomegranate molasses, and bright cilantro, all balanced by warm spices and golden raisins. Salty feta cheese, pungent scallions, and pomegranate seeds adorned the dish for a colorful composed salad with dynamic flavors and textures. But when making this salad’s dressing ahead, we found that the pomegranate molasses’s brightness was muted a bit. So, we made a little more dressing than we would typically need for this salad; the extra dressing gave us leeway to dress more heavily when reviving the salad from refrigerator storage. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, substitute 30 ml* (2 tablespoons) of lemon juice, 10 ml (2 teaspoons) of mild molasses, and 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of honey. Do not substitute hulled barley or hull-less barley in this recipe. If using quick-cooking or presteamed barley (read the ingredient list on the package to determine this), you will need to decrease the barley cooking time in step 1.
Metric conversions by The Cook’s Cook
- Prep 30 minutes
- Servings 6-8
- 355 ml (1½ cups) pearl barley
- Salt and pepper
- 45 ml (3 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) pomegranate molasses
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) lemon juice
- 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- 1.2 ml (¼ teaspoon) ground cumin
- 118 ml (½ cup) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 71 ml (⅓ cup) golden raisins
- 59 ml (¼ cup) shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped coarse
- 85 grams (3 ounces) feta cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes (¾ cup)
- 6 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin
- 118 ml (½ cup) pomegranate seeds
1. Bring 3.7 liters (4 quarts) water to boil in Dutch oven. Add barley and 15 ml (1 tablespoon) salt, return to boil, and cook until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. Drain barley, spread in rimmed baking sheet, and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Whisk oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, cinnamon, cumin, and 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) salt together in large bowl.
3. Add barley, cilantro, raisins, and pistachios 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.