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Day 185: Barley, Lentil & Spinach Salad

I’m doing some preemptive damage control before Stampede starts tomorrow.

Also, it has been a long and particularly stressful two days, and I hadn’t even considered dinner until we realized it was 4pm and we hadn’t even eaten lunch.

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s clean-out-the-fridge week. This, happily, coincides with my dogsitting duties, which includes the fringe benefit of a gardenful of fresh spinach that if not plucked, will go to seed. So the challenge for this week: Using Up Stuff with Fresh Spinach.

As I may have mentioned before, I love grainy salads, and particularly lentils and barley together. The combination makes a complete protein, and is substantial enough for a whole meal-in-a-bowl. The best part is that they cook for the exact same amount of time, so you can bring a pot of water to a boil and throw in a handful of dried lentils and a handful of barley (this would also be ideal for an Extremely Frugal-themed week) and boil them for 40 minutes, then drain in a colander, run cold water over them and you’re good to go. Bonus: you can freeze them at this point, which is what I did with the barley and lentils I used tonight. Just run them under warm water in a colander to thaw, or throw them directly into soup. Canned lentils, rinsed and drained, work just as well, but you’ll still have to cook the barley. Or try brown rice.

The great thing about salads is that you really don’t have to use a specific list of ingredients, or adhere to any measurements. I wished I had a tomato or better yet, some grape tomatoes, but I didn’t, so red pepper worked out fine. (Still, I wished it was roasted.) Any sort of balsamic vinaigrette works in place of the dressing.


Lentil & Barley Salad

Recipe link

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July 3, 2008

  • Makes: Serves 6.


1/2 cup dry green lentils

1/2 cup pearl or pot barley

1 garlic clove, peeled (optional)

1 tomato or a handful of grape tomatoes, chopped or halved

a big handful of fresh spinach or Italian parsley, chopped

as much crumbled feta as you like

some finely chopped purple onion or a chopped green onion

freshly ground black pepper


1/3 cup canola or olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. grainy mustard


1In a medium pot of boiling water, cook the lentils, barley and garlic clove (if you like) for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a colander and discard the garlic clove.

2Let cool completely, then toss in a bowl with the tomato, spinach or parsley, feta, onion and a good grinding of pepper. In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and mustard; drizzle over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until it's time to eat.

Makes: Serves 6.

About Julie

8 comments on “Day 185: Barley, Lentil & Spinach Salad

  1. pauline
    July 4, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Julie, I have just made the salad, looks fab. You are inspireing me to try new things. I can’t tell you how long I have had the green lentils in my cupboard. Me thinks I may have purchased them after seeing Survir Saran at Jasper and had to buy his cook book Indian home cooking. Anyways it was a long time ago. Have a great holiday, you sure do deserve it.

  2. Jennifer
    July 8, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    This will be my new favorite standby salad. I loved the texture of the barley and lentils together and the versatility of the rest of it. I used a variety of greens from the garden including beet tops, lamb’s quarters, spinach and chickweed

  3. maplesugar
    August 28, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Yum! I finally made this salad for the first time today and I LOVE it, even without the cheese(the feta lingering in the back of the fridge had sadly passed it’s prime, oops). I’m pretty sure it’ll be even better tomorrow since it’s only had an hour or so to marinate.

    I doubled the barley & lentils when I cooked them so now I have a batch of those ready in the freezer woohoo!

    Thanks Julie! 😀

  4. lovefrom1stbite
    November 26, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Lovely, I noticed many of your salads have spinach in them (always a good thing). So I thought you might like my spinach & strawberry improvised salad. You could check it out on my blog. I’m sure you’ll love it, it’s really out of this world.

  5. Pamela
    March 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I made this for supper last night, and we enjoyed it very much. I was really surprised how much it made, given that one uses only 1/2 cup of each of lentils and barley.

    I had all the ingredients except onion so rather than go out to the grocery store for a red onion or green onions I used part of a very large shallot, finely chopped. However, the raw shallot made our mouths very dry after dinner, and it was a bit sharpish in flavour. I ought to have lightly fried the shallot first.

    For Sunday lunch today, I heated a package of Imagine brand organic butternut squash soup, with the remainder of the salad in it. It slightly cooked the shallot and made a fantastic soup!

  6. georgie
    March 22, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Even better if you whisk in a bit of curry powder to the oil before adding the citrus or vinegar. Yum!

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