Barley (Farro) Salad with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

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I never really ate farro or barley until recently. There is a great food spot called Forage in Silverlake and it was here that I had my first experience (or at least the first memory) eating barley. And I could have eaten it all day. The mix of flavours is divine.  It has a hearty, oaty, refreshing taste with a satisfying nuttiness. It is sweet, yet savoury and also high in fibre and protein! Please don’t let the word ‘salad’ put you off this dish! It would usually put old Maria off any dish too.

If you have some additional vegetables lying around, you can always use them up in this recipe; peppers, olives, carrots. 

Additional tips I have heard of, include boiling the barley in vegetable stock for additional flavour! This is definitely something I will try next time around.  

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For those of you wondering, the difference in taste between Farro and Barley is pretty subtle. They are different things but are pretty much interchangeable in recipes and whichever you use will taste great. 

Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella (4 servings)

  • 2 cups barley or farro (I used the 'cook in 10 minutes' pack from trader joes) 
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 3 fresh garlic gloves or 1 full tsp. pre-crushed garlic ( I use the pre-crushed garlic in a jar to save time)
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for cooking

For the dressing 

  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes 
  • Salt, to taste (usually 1-2 tablespoons is fine)
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of fresh mozzarella 
  • 1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
  • Small handful basil leaves, chopped
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Simmer the barley in the water, per the instructions on the pack. I used the 10 minute barley from Trader Joes and it was ready in approximately 10-15 minutes. If you are using uncooked barley, this will be approximately 30-40 minutes. It is done, when it is chewy and still a little firm (like pasta). Turn off the heat and drain excess water. 
  2. Meanwhile in a frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion until it is translucent. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Cook for a couple more minutes. 
  3. Take the onions and garlic off the heat and add the barley to this, mixing well. Add the chopped basil leaves and sliced tomatoes. 
  4. In a small bowl we will make the dressing. Mix together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey. Drizzle this onto the barley. Season with salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well and taste it to make sure the seasoning is just right!
  5. When the barley has cooled down enough, add the chopped mozzarella. Adding it in to soon will result in melted mozzarella! (Unless that's what you want! :S)
  6. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to allow the flavours to mix together more. This dish is best enjoyed cold. 
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