Pearl Barley and Baby Spinach, Corn & Shiitake Mushroom Salad

Pearl Barley and Baby Spinach, Corn & Shiitake Mushroom Salad

Pearl barley is used a lot in stews and soups, but I think it works really well in a salad like this. If you mix it when it's hot, the pearl barley acts like a little sponge and soaks up all the flavors. Beautiful! Feel free to play around and add things, or take them away. You can buy the hummus from most supermarkets, and it’s always a great thing to have on standby in your fridge for a dip for some raw vegetables. But if you don’t have it, or don’t feel like buying it, you can omit it. Some beautiful Greek feta would be great in this salad too. Happy eating!

[caption id="attachment_5692" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Pearl Barley and Baby Spinach Salad Photo Credit: John Bedell[/caption]

Ingredients (Use Organic When Possible)

Makes 4 servings

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 organic red onion, finely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3½ ounces organic shiitake mushrooms, stalks removed and caps cut into quarters
  • 1 ear of organic sweet corn
  • 1/3 cup organic hummus
  • Maldon salt or other flaky salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 handful organic baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup organic dill leaves
  • 1/2 cup organic flat-leaf parsley leaves


1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the barley and cook for about 30 minutes, or until tender.

2. While the barley is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, stirring often to keep them for burning. Combine the pine nuts and onion in a large bowl.

3. Using the same frying pan over high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the mushrooms. Sauté for about 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms have some good color. Add them to the bowl with the onions and pine nuts.

4. In the same pan over medium-high heat, add some more olive oil if necessary and the corn on the cob. Cook the corn for about 5 minutes, or until it's nicely colored all over. It'll make a bit of noise and spit a tiny bit, but don't worry—the heat shouldn't be high enough to make it pop and splatter! Remove it from the pan and place it on a chopping board to cool down.

5. Drain the barley and add it to the bowl with the hummus and salt and pepper to taste. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and add them, too. Give it a taste, then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

6. Add the handful of baby spinach leaves and mix well. Garnish with the dill and parsley and serve.

Chef Jane Coxwell 

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