I tore this recipe out of Food & Wine way back in July with the intention of making it immediately. I put it up on the fridge and looked at it all the time but…I never got around to actually preparing it. To be fair, it was the middle of the summer, and I was busy stuffing myself with tomatoes, corn, and watermelon. Kale and barley just seemed a little too hearty and wintery, even if it did involve pesto.
Fast forward to mid-September. I’m still eating an obscene amount of tomatoes, but it’s starting to get dark around 7pm and last night we busted out Owen’s footie pajamas. Fall is here. So I made this recipe (with a few tweaks) and it was everything I hoped it would be. Which is: the perfect balance between a grain salad and a green salad.
This dish is easy to adapt based on what you’ve got on hand. Use faro or wheat berries in place of the barley, swap spinach or arugula for the kale, or replace the pine nuts with walnuts. Just don’t skimp on the lemon juice, zest, or salt–they add loads of flavor and really make the salad sing.
Barley Salad with Kale Pesto
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 4 cups packed de-stemmed regular or baby kale leaves
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice plus zest of 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the barley with 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender, about 35 minutes. Drain and rinse the barley and transfer it to a large bowl.
In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over low heat until fragrant, about 4 or 5 minutes (watch carefully, as pine nuts can burn fast!). Transfer the pine nuts to the bowl with the barley. In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallot and raisins and sauté until the shallot has softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shallot mixture to the barley.
Combine 2 cups of the kale and the lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil and process until well blended (you might have to stop and scrape down the sides). Pour the pesto over the barley.
Chop or tear the remaining 2 cups of kale into medium pieces and add to the barley. Add the lemon zest and toss everything together. Season liberally with salt and pepper.