Bean and Barley Salad {Vegan}

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Bean and Barley Salad

I don’t know about you, but I prefer a romantic Valentine’s Day meal at home over a meal at most restaurants. That way you get to enjoy a quiet meal with your loved one in the comfort of your own home without any waiting or traveling…and I’m guessing the food is just as good (or better!).

Bean and Barley Salad 2

The only downside to having Valentine’s Day dinner at home is the clean-up, but that’s where enlisting your Valentine’s help comes in. ;)

Here is the Valentine’s Day menu I put together to share with you.

I made this meal for Mike a couple weeks ago (yup, before V-day…a windfall for him really, since he’ll get another special meal on the actual holiday) and he just about thought he had died and gone to heaven, especially when he had the main course (roast beef for two)…but I’ll tell you more on that soon. I’ll be sharing each recipe in a separate post.

The first course was this beautiful salad, which is flavorful, hearty, and healthy. You’ll have lots of leftovers, but don’t worry, this salad keeps well in the fridge for about three to four days and leftovers make a fantastic lunch.

Bean and Barley Salad 3

Bean and Barley Salad {Vegan}
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish or first course, or 4 as a main dish on top of a bed of lettuce
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ cup medium-ground bulgur wheat
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (or another 1 tablespoon light olive oil)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper (optional; more or less to taste)
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained (cooked or canned)
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained (cooked or canned)
  1. Put the barley and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small-medium lidded saucepan with 1½ cups hot water; cover, bring to a boil, then turn heat down to very low and simmer until the water is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any excess water, then cool and fluff.
  2. While the barley cooks, soak the bulgur. To do so, put the bulgur and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; add 1 cup boiling water, cover the bowl, and let it sit for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any excess water, then cool and fluff.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, canola oil, sesame oil, lemon juice, rice vinegar, tamari sauce, maple syrup, sweet paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and hot paprika (or cayenne). Stir in the red onion, red bell pepper, parsley, lentils, black beans, barley, and bulgur.
  4. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired; refrigerate until serving and store any leftovers refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Maple Syrup: You can use honey instead if keeping it vegan isn’t a concern.

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  1. says

    I’m totally with you on the valentine’s dinner in! Joe usually makes me dinner on valentine’s day, which is nice, but I do like to have a say in things in the kitchen :-)

    I think your menu looks wonderful!

  2. says

    I also prefer to have a home cooked meal instead of going to a restaurant full of strangers, your menu sounds really perfect and this barley salad looks delicious

  3. says

    You’re right to stay home on Valentine’s Day. Chefs tell me they think of it as “amateur night,” in that most of the guests are there just for the evening and will never return. It’s also a night that restaurants put out a prix fix that’s not necessarily their most creative far, but dishes they know they can execute well when it gets crazy busy. Yeah, I’d rather go to a place on a regular night when they’re really got their game on.

  4. says

    The first course sets the mood… Like you, I love a romantic date at home too, this is because I feel safer, I don’t like leaving my little girl with her nanny. Now that she’s two, I am sure the romantic date will be for 3 now. =) Thanks for sharing!

  5. says

    This barley salad is perfect Faith! I am on a diet currently so I would go with this salad as a main meal! Mmm, I can imagine how good it was! The doves are super, I, too, like to buy little things liek these that make a well prepared table even more beautiful!

  6. says

    Mike is certainly a lucky guy! Jake and I usually go out for Valentine’s day, but I bet we would be thrilled if I came up with a menu like this!

  7. says

    I am so with you… we used to call VD and NYer’s amateur night when I was a waiter after college. Service sucked, prices were nuts and mostly not terribly romantic unless you spent ENORMOUS bucks at super restaurants. Better at home… controlled environment and no one breaking up at the table next to you with tears and screams. Lovely idea!!!!

  8. says

    Hi Faith, I much prefer celebrating at home. We don’t eat out often because of hubby’s celiac but the intimacy of the home can’t really be duplicated, at least, not at the restaurants, we can eat at.

    Your dinner is special and loving. Enjoy.

  9. says

    Wow Faith, this salad is awesome and healthy…like the idea of staying home for Valentine’s Day.
    Thanks for this yummie recipe and hope you are having a great week :)

  10. says

    I always look forward to your Valentine’s menu! The restaurants are always so crowded, I’m with you on staying home. The salad looks fantastic – aside from being a wonderful appetizer it would make great lunches for myself – healthy and delicious!

  11. says

    Hubby and I gave up on going to restaurants on any given commercial event years ago. We always treat ourselves better from our own ‘cucina’.
    Looking forward to the rest of the menu…very lovely thought Faith ;o)

    Flavourful wishes and a great weekend ahead,

  12. says

    Thank YOU so much for sharing :) Mr Bao doesn’t read blogs so i am SO going to take your recipes and use them as my own hohoho hope you don’t mind :P i’m so stuck about what to do for Valentines day :(

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