This mushroom barley salad with herbs embraces flavors of a new season. A hearty mix of wild mushrooms are fried until golden and then tossed with spring herbs (tarragon, marjoram, chives and parsley) and together with a zesty vinaigrette this beautiful salad sings with delicious flavours.
Whether you serve it warm or at room temperature, it a great way to switch up your salad routine. And thanks to deliciously nutty pearl barley, this salad can be enjoyed as vegetarian (and vegan!) main meal salad.
Mushroom Barley Salad — It’s all in the mix
A mix of mushrooms and a mix of herbs is what gives this salad so much depth of flavour. For this barley salad I use 5 different types of mushrooms and 5 different types of herbs.
Types of mushrooms
Shimeji beech mushrooms are my newest mushroom discovery. Not only are they adorable, because of their small size, but they also have a delicious savoury, nutty and umami flavor. To cook with them all you need to use is to cut away the interconnected base from the stems.
King trumpet are one my favourites. They have a meaty texture, and earthy, aromatic, and very savory flavor with loads of umami flavor.
Oyster mushrooms belong to the same family as king trumpet, however they are shorter and grow in clusters. They have a delicate, mild flavor, but meaty texture and are versatile choice for many dishes.
When it comes to mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms are where the flavor is at! This variety is one of the most savory, umami-rich and meaty flavored mushrooms around. Adding them to any mushroom dish will instantly give it a boost of flavor.
Cremini mushrooms are probably one of the most popular mushrooms around. The different between them and a white button mushroom is that they are a little more mature, and as they age, they become drier, more flavourful and browner.
Types of herbs
I find that using a mix of herbs adds a depth and complexity of flavor that you can’t get any other way.
Tarragon is highly aromatic and adds a licorice-like element, that is very complimentary to the earthy mushrooms. It’s fresh taste, that is reminiscent of spring, shouldn’t be skipped.
Marjoram adds an earthy element that is also delicate and sweet. A little like pine and lemon together with a floral element.
Chives are my alternative to onion here. They are mild in taste and don’t overpower the other flavours.
Thyme is used in the recipe as I cook the mushrooms. It has a slightly minty, peppery element and can either be added while sautéing the mushrooms or along with the other herbs. Be sure to use a soft leaved thyme.
Parsley is the workhorse of my kitchen and I use it often due to its fresh, clean flavor. It’s the perfect all-rounder.
Looking for other grain salads?
Try one of these delicious recipes:
- Pearl Barley Salad with Herbs and Feta
- Barley Bowl with Lemon-Spinach Pesto
- Spelt Salad with Chicken, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Almonds
- Wild Rice Salad with Mushrooms and Herbs
Warm Mushroom Barley Salad with Herbs
For the salad:
- 1 cup uncooked pearl barley (200 g)
- 500 g mixed mushrooms (e.g Shimeji, King Trumpet, Shiitake, Cremini, Oyster Mushrooms)
- 2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- sea salt snd freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 handfuls soft fresh herbs, such as marjoram, tarragon, chives, and parsley, chopped (about 1/2 to 2/3 a cup chopped)
For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar (Japanese)
- freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, from an organic lemon
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Lemon wedges or slices, to serve (optional)
Cook the barley in 3 x water for 30 minutes (according to package instructions). Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes. If liquid remains, drain the barley in a colander (or use the lid of the pot to strain off any excess moisture). Transfer to large serving bowl.
Meanwhile, slice or break up the mushrooms, depending on their size. Smaller mushrooms can be left whole.
Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms to the pan, along with the thyme sprigs and season well with black pepper.
Increase the heat to high and fry for about 10 minutes, stirring the mushrooms often, until all the juices have evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown.
Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, mustard, and olive oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the herbs to the bowl with the barley. Pour over the dressing and toss well. Add the mushrooms, and gently toss again to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Serve with slices or wedges of lemon on the side. Enjoy!
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