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Pearl barley with toasted walnuts and blue cheese salad

There is such a wonderful choice of grains to use in salads, all adding their own characteristics and consistencies. Pearl barley, known by food historians as “the oldest of food”, has a nutty, creamy consistency and when cooked, as here, retains a pleasing chewy bite. The lemon and thyme add a refreshing contrast to the sweet, crunchy walnuts and the sharpness of the blue cheese to create this wonderfully balanced and satisfying salad.

Barley of all the whole grains has the highest fibre content and a low glycemic index helping to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels- making this an ideal salad to serve on Boxing Day!

I love our walnut tree although have to admit that we don’t get to eat our own walnuts too often; the squirrels seem to get there first, stripping the tree bare overnight. I have come to the conclusion that they must work in gangs. These lovely walnuts are from my friend Louise’s tree, she clearly lives in a squirrel-free zone.

Pearl barley with toasted walnuts and blue cheese salad

Serves 6

  • 350g pearl barley
  • 1 litre water
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 100g walnuts cut in quarters
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme – stripped and leaves chopped
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 150g blue cheese – blue cashel or gorgonzola
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the pearl barley in a colander and rinse well, place in a pan with the water, salt and bay leaves and cook for 15/20 minutes – ensuring the pearl barley retains a bite to it. Drain and allow to cool.

Coat the walnuts in the oil and honey combined and place on a baking tray. Cook at 180ºc for 10 minutes, careful not to burn, allow to cool.

Stir the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and thyme through the pearl barley, season as required. Add the walnuts and cheese and serve.

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2 comments on “Pearl barley with toasted walnuts and blue cheese salad

Nina Christensen

10 Dec 2012

This looks lovely, can’t wait to try it.



13 Apr 2013

This looks lovely but unfortunately i do not have any pearl barley. Do you know a good substitute?


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Through The Natural Pantry I hope to share with you some of the delicious recipes discovered whilst cooking in my kitchen with produce grown in our garden and the very best natural ingredients.