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Barley and Tomato Salad Recipe for a Potluck

by Lael Hazan on March 29, 2011

November to May is social season in Sarasota; a time for charity dinners, visitors, and dinner parties.  Pot luck dinner parties are very popular and one of our favorite dishes to bring is this easy to make barley and tomato salad.   Sometimes the parties have themes, such as: bring a dish that starts with the same letter of your last name, or an Asian theme; however, sometimes they are just get togethers for fun and relaxation and one can bring anything one wishes.  When that occurs, it is always difficult to figure out what to make.  We’ve discovered that this dish is always a winner, it has everything an ideal potluck dish should have: easy to make, easy to transport, and holds up well sitting on a counter.

The ingredients for the barley and tomato salad are few, but the key is to get the freshest and tastiest tomatoes possible.  We like to use Florida “ugly ripe” tomatoes.  Although they live up to their name in appearance, they tend to have the most flavor of any tomato in our  market. Of course, if you can grow your own tomatoes that is even better.  Cooking barley is just like rice, yet the grain has a nutty flavor that gives depth to the dish.  Add the tomato, parsley and onion to the dish and you are set with an easily transportable dish that all will enjoy.  Our host for the evening, Melanie, enjoyed the dish so much she saved some to have the next day for her lunch!

Recipe: Barley and Tomato Salad:

from How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan

Summary: A simple and nutritious salad that is perfect for a picnic or a buffet


  • Salt
  • 1 cup farro or barley
  • 1/4 sweet yellow onion (1/3 cup sliced crosswise)
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 pound fresh tomato
  • 8-10 basil leaves
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Put about 2 quarts water in a pot and place over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and pour in the farro or barley. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain it and let it cool.
  2. While the barley is cooling, thinly slice the sweet onion crosswise and soak the slices in cold water. Chop the parsley and cut the tomato into about 3/4”chunks.
  3. When the barley is cool, or at least lukewarm, put it in a serving bowl with the tomatoes and parsley. Drain the sliced onion and add it to the bowl. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and add them to the salad. Season to taste with salt and the olive oil. Toss well and serve.

Quick Notes

Serves 4 people as a single course meal or 6 people as part of a multi-course meal


Can be made with Farro.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total Cooking time (duration): 50

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet (other): Low calorie

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Italian

















Comments on this entry are closed.

Jamie April 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I love barley, really love it yet rarely cook with it. Now that the weather is warming and summer is on the way this will make a great lunch dish! Love the pictures of the kids and wish we had things like pot lucks here. But I can still make the salad!

Actually, now that I think about it, JP bought a small box of pearl barley and it has been waiting for us to find something to use it in! Coincidence or fate? Perfect!

Krista March 31, 2011 at 1:31 am

Ugly ripes are my favorite too! :-) They remind me of hot summer days playing at my grandparents and seeing these beauties thriving in the greenhouse. :-) I adore barley but for some reason have never used it in salad. Your recipe compels me to. :-)

SMITH BITES March 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

i must confess i’ve never, ever made barley – but i do love it in soups so i imagine i would enjoy it in a salad. and really, how can you go wrong with fresh garden tomatoes?!!

Nisrine M March 29, 2011 at 11:01 am

A great salad for all kinds of gatherings indeed. As in the above comment, it strikes me as very similar to tabbouleh.

Rosa March 29, 2011 at 9:05 am

A lovely and healthy salad! I really love farro and always have a packet in my pantry. It is so versatile.



Soma March 29, 2011 at 8:29 am

Thanks for reminding me to get the barley out of my pantry. its been a while. This is almost like how I make it, as I love the mediterranean Tabbouleh. The tomatoes look GORGEOUS!!

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