Barley Salad with Herbs and Mushrooms

Mushroom Barley Salad

Serves: 6-8              Prep Time: 15 minutes             Cook Time: about 1 hour


This is another perfect salad for a chilly fall day.  It has chewy barley, lots of herbs, warm mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and crunchy fried shallots.  I like to serve this warm, hearty salad with roasted chicken.  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  It makes a great lunch the next day!

Fried Shallots and Shallot Oil

What makes this flavorful dish stand out from the crowd are the crunchy fried shallots.  Save the fragrant shallot oil to use in other recipes, too! It is used in many Asian dishes, vinaigrettes, and garnishes.  Both the fried shallots and oil can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in the fridge, in an airtight container.


  • 2 Shallots, peeled an sliced thin, about 1/8 inch wide
  • 3/4 c Canola Oil (or any other neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point)
  • Salt



You will need a medium-sized frying pan and a fine mesh strainer or slotted spoon and a plate lined with paper towels.

  1. Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-low heat.  After a few minutes, test the oil by dropping a shallot slice in the hot pan.  If the shallot sizzles, the oil is hot enough.  If it does not sizzle, wait until it begins to bubble before dumping the rest of the shallots into the pan. friedShallots
  2. Once the shallots are in the hot oil and sizzling, gently swirl the pan around and stir frequently to avoid burning them.  After several minutes, the shallots will start to turn golden brown.  This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, so be patient.  When the shallots turn a light golden brown, remove from heat and pour them and the oil through a fine mesh strainer placed over a large, heat-safe container.  I use a glass measuring cup for this step because it makes pouring the cooled oil into the storage container easier.  Set the oil aside to cool.   Then store in the refrigerator, in an air-tight containershallotOil
  3. Spread the shallots out on a large plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.  Allow them to cool completely, then store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.


Barley is a nutritious grain that comes in several forms. The most common type is pearl, which has its outer husk and bran layer stripped.  The result is a uniform, ivory colored grain.  It retains some nutrients, but it is not considered a whole grain. Hulled barley is less common, but check the bulk foods department of your grocery store. The outer husk is removed on hulled barley, but it retains the bran layer, making it rich in dietary fiber and other nutrients. For this recipe, I often use pearl because my grocery store doesn’t always have hulled.



  • 1 c Barley, pearl or hulled
  • 3 c Water or Stock (I always use chicken stock because it makes the barely more flavorful.  You can also use vegetable or beef stock.)


  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring 3 cups of water or stock to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse the barley under cold water to remove any dust or debris.
  3. When the water or stock is boiling, pour in the rinsed barley and bring back to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer and cover.
  4. For pearl barley, cook for about 30-40 minutes.  Cook hulled barley for about 50-60 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat when all liquid has been absorbed and grains are tender but still chewy.  Times will vary, so check the pot periodically for doneness.
  5. Once the barley is cooked, pour it into a bowl to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.  If you made the barley ahead, seal cooled barley in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to prepare the salad.  Barley can easily be reheated in a pan with a little butter.

Butter-Basted Mushrooms

The star of this salad is the butter-basted herby mushrooms.  You can use whichever type of edible mushroom you find in your grocery store, but I usually use pre-sliced cremini, (baby bellas).  It is a real time-saver, and they are easy to find.  If you buy whole mushrooms, be sure to clean them thoroughly by wiping away the dirt with a cloth or dry toothbrush.  Don’t rinse them under water for too long because they will absorb that water and won’t brown as easily in the pan.  For more information about mushrooms, read this article.


  • 16 oz Cremini Mushrooms, cleaned, sliced and patted dry
  • 2 tbs Olive Oil
  • 3 tbs Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
  • 1 Garlic Clove, medium-large, peeled and smashed but left whole
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot and rippling, add the mushrooms and let them brown on one side for several minutes, (about 3-5 minutes). If the pan is too small to accommodate all the mushrooms, you can do this step in multiple batches.  Just remove the browned mushrooms from the pan and set aside on a plate, then add another tablespoon of oil to the hot pan and toss in the next batch.  Repeat as necessary.  Once all the mushrooms are cooked, add them all back into the pan and proceed to the next step.  The mushrooms cook down in size considerably and should all fit in the pan at this point.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then add the butter, garlic and thyme sprigs.  Stir to coat the mushrooms in the melted butter.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Tilt the pan to catch the butter in a spoon and baste the mushrooms with it.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove all the mushrooms from the pan, place them in a bowl and set aside.  Discard the butter, thyme and garlic.

Assemble the Salad



  • 1/2 c Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 1/2 c Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • Cooked Barley
  • 1 tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbs Shallot Oil
  • Cooked Mushrooms
  • 1 oz Shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • Fried Shallots


In a large serving bowl, toss the warmed barley with the parsley leaves, cilantro leaves, lemon juice, shallot oil, mushrooms, and shaved Parmesan cheese.  Top with most of the fried shallots and serve immediately.  Set the rest of the fried shallots aside for leftovers.

Recipe adapted from bon appetit.


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