Watercress and Barley Salad

Photo: Lisa Cohen
Prep Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
45 mins

Grains make salad more substantial. They also continue to absorb moisture as they sit, so if you've made it in advance, you might need to add more dressing or lemon juice to perk it up when serving.


  • 1 cup pearled barley, rinsed and drained

  • Coarse salt

  • cup fresh lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Ground pepper

  • 2 medium carrots, cut into small diced pieces

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into medium-size diced pieces

  • ½ small red onion, minced

  • ¼ cup minced fresh dill

  • 1 large bunch watercress, stems trimmed, torn into bite-size pieces

  • cup toasted sunflower seeds


  1. In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add barley and 1/2 teaspoon salt; reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until barley is tender but still chewy, about 35 minutes. Drain; rinse barley under cold running water until cool. Drain well, and transfer to a large bowl.

  2. Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, honey, and oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Add carrots, cucumber, red onion, dill, and dressing to large bowl with barley. Toss to combine.

  3. At serving time, add watercress and sunflower seeds; toss to combine. Place salad on platter to serve family-style, or mound on individual plates. Serve at room temperature.

Cook's Notes

For a change of pace, try substituting 3 1/2 cups of another cooked whole grain, such as brown rice or quinoa, for the barley.

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