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I’m a big fan of doing a bulk meal prep of a few dishes at the beginning of the week. It streamlines your time in the kitchen, plus ensures you have a quick, healthy options available at all times. Bringing together a handful of delicious ingredients in this recipe for barley adds a new favorite to my rotation.

Salads are a traditional no-brained for the summer, yet I truly love eating a healthy, comforting salad any time of the year. No matter how crazy your day gets, a hearty salad is a perfect go-to option.

Choosing Comforting Ingredients

When I make new recipes, I start by focusing on lists of targeted ingredients. This recipe is chock-full of what I call my Comfort & Calm foods: barley, squash, walnuts, cheese, olive oil and antioxidants. I’d never actually had a recipe for barley salad before, but it my mouth started to water when I imagined it paired with the other ingredients,.

Each item is super ‘sturdy,’ so it’s also a great on-the-run option to toss into your car or bag at the beginning of the day. You can dive-into lunch on the go or enjoy nibbles to keep you fueled during the day. (Doesn’t everyone graze throughout the day like me? Ha Ha)

Flexible Recipe for Barley: Pre-Cook or Quick Build

It’s so funny… I dreamed up this recipe quickly, but then took a day to actually make it. Sure, you can cook/prep all ingredients at one time and then compose the salad. Yet, I had a busy day and ended up cooking the barley in the morning, then roasting the butternut squash in the afternoon. Finally, I tossed the salad together for dinner.

That’s just how my day flowed and it was nice to have a recipe that could work with my small windows for cooking.

Sure, it took me a day to build the salad. If you wanted to build the salad all at one time, it’ll take about an hour total to prep, cook, cool and toss. Of course, there are multi-tasking windows there while the barley and squash are cooking, then cooling. Take it as an opportunity to hide in the kitchen with a good book, or plan a dance party with your kiddo… totally your call.

This is certainly a new favorite of mine! (I’m craving it as I type…) Looking forward to hearing your comments; please share below.

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Comforting Barley Salad in a Bowl

Ultimate Healthy Comfort: Recipe for Barley, Butternut Squash and Walnuts

  • Author: nicholebanducci
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

Scale

BARLEY SALAD INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups cooked Pearl Barley
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash (see ingredients and recipe, below)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles (or vegan feta)
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 6 Tbsp easy vinaigrette dressing (see ingredients and recipe, below)
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small butternut squash, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

EASY VINAIGRETTE DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Dice small butternut squash into 1/2 inch pieces
  • coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • place on baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes till tender, but not soft
  • Remove from oven and let cool

EASY VINAIGRETTE DRESSING:

  • Mix olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a jar or small bowl
  • Set aside to dress the salad, to taste
  • Note – the recipe makes 10 tablespoons/5 servings, you’ll use about 6 tablespoons for this salad. Save the remaining amount for a future salad.

PEARL BARLEY:

  • Cook the barley per package instructions (30 minutes for stovetop)
  • Let cool

BUILDING THE SALAD:

  • Add the cooked/cooled butternut squash & pearl barley to a large bowl
  • Mix-in the walnuts, feta and pomegranate seeds
  • Add the vinaigrette dressing, mix and season as needed to taste
  • Garnish with freshly chopped oregano

Serve the salad right away (cool/room temperature) or store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.