Healthy Pearl Barley and Kale Chopped Salad Recipe

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barley, kalamata olives, kale, pepperoncini
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 334kcal
This chopped salad can be made ahead of time and is portable.  Great for pot lucks and picnics, but also a delicious vegetarian option for brown-bag lunches.
Print Recipe


  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 teeaspoon salt
  • 2 large kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup celery 1-2 stalks, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and grated
  • 1/2 english cucumber diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 3 radishes cut into matchsticks
  • 3 scallions white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 15 ounce can chick peas rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and quartered
  • 1/3 cup pepperoncini peppers from a jar sliced, the seeds are fine, but discard the stems

For the vinaigrette

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/12 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons juice from pepperoncini pepper jar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Cooking Barley:

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add salt and stir in the barley. Partially cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 - 20 minutes. Spoon out a few grains of barley and test them for doneness. You're looking for a bit al dente -- not mushy or overcooked. If it needs a few more minutes, let it simmer, but if it's tender and chewy, remove from heat and strain through sieve. Rinse with cold water and set aside to continue to drain and cool to room temperature.

How To Prepare Kale For A Salad:

  • Remove the tough stems from the kale. Massage the kale with both hands, rather aggressively, breaking down the tough, chewy fibers until the kale is tender and grassy smelling. Bunch the kale tightly into a ball and chop it very finely with a sharp chef's knife or santoku. (You may have to do this in several bunches, depending on the size of your hands -- mine are liliputian.)
  • Transfer the kale to a large bowl and add the celery, red onion, carrot, cucumber, bell peppers, radishes, scallions, kalamata olives, chick peas and pepperoncini peppers.

Make the vinaigrette:

  • Zest the lemon with a microplane grater and transfer to a bowl or glass measuring cup. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Add the chopped garlic, dijon mustard, pepperoncini juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Whisk briskley until the dressing is emulsfied. Add the chopped parsley and stir to combine.

Assemble the chopped salad recipe

  • Add cooled barley to the vegtable mixture and toss to combine thoroughly.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette. Toss the salad completely and taste before adding more dressing. Do not over-dress the salad. Add dressing 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the salad is well dressed but not goopy or wet. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Keeps for up to five days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


I ended up with some leftover dressing (which I will use on another unsuspecting vegetable).


Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 494mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4230IU | Vitamin C: 74.5mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1.8mg