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Spinach, asparagus and red pepper salad on a plate.

Barley Salad with Asparagus, Red Pepper and Spinach

A delicious and hearty spring salad with sautéed asparagus, red pepper, spinach and pearl barley
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: Nordic, Scandinavian
Keyword: asparagus salad, barley salad recipe, goat cheese salad, spring salad recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 436kcal
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)
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds toasted
  • 3 ounces soft goat cheese for crumbling over the top


  • Combine 1 tablespoon 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 or on a serving platter.  Arrange the asparagus and barley mixture over the top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and crumbled goat cheese.


To Cook Pearl (or Medium) Barley:  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Season with salt. Add ½ cup of pearl barley. Cook until tender, about 25-30 minutes.  Drain through a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water to cool completely.  Barley can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Cooked barley can also be frozen in a freezer safe container such as a Ziploc freezer bag for up to 3 months.
Try to find thin asparagus spears for this recipe. They will cook more quickly than thicker spears.
Adapted from the May/June 2003 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine.


Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 120mg | Potassium: 623mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5804IU | Vitamin C: 55mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 5mg