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Asparagus, red pepper and spinach salad topped with goat cheese on a plate

Springtime Barley Salad with Asparagus, Red Pepper and Spinach

A delicious and hearty spring salad with sautéed asparagus, red pepper, spinach and pearl barley
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: Nordic, Scandinavian
Keyword: asparagus salad, barley salad recipe, goat cheese salad, spring salad recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 -3 large salads or 4 side salads
Calories: 791kcal
Author: Kristi


  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar divided
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into a medium dice
  • 8 ounces thin asparagus spears trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium shallot sliced thin
  • 1 ½ cups cooked pearl barley cooled (see note below)
  • 4-5 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds toasted
  • Soft goat cheese for crumbling over the top


  • Combine vinegar and garlic together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add red pepper and cook until lightly browned and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until nearly tender, about 2 minutes.  Add shallot and cook until softened, about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and add remaining teaspoon of sherry vinegar. Stir in cooled barley. Set aside to cool while you make the vinaigrette.
  • Whisk remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil into garlic and sherry vinegar mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Toss spinach with 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette in a large bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add asparagus and barley mixture to the medium bowl with the remaining vinaigrette.  Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, create a bed of spinach on the bottom of each plate.  Arrange the asparagus and barley mixture over the top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and crumbled goat cheese.


To cook pearl barley: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Season with salt. Add 1 cup pearl barley. Cook until tender, about 25-30 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool. If you want to expedite the cooling process, spread the cooked barley out on a sheet pan and place it in the refrigerator.  1 cup of dry pearl barley makes approximately 3 cups cooked so you will have more than you need. (Barley can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container).
Adapted from the May/June 2003 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine.


Calories: 791kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 61g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 1049mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 8491IU | Vitamin C: 101mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 8mg