This barley salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley is a refreshing, healthy, and filling summer salad. It works great as a side dish or as a complete meal.

Front view of salad in a patterned blue and white bowl. Text overlay reads "Barley Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers & parsley."

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for salads that are a main dish like this one with lentils or this freekeh salad that’s become one of my favorites.

Especially for lunch. I love to have something already prepped and waiting for me in the fridge because lunch is always a little chaotic. It usually falls into one of four categories:

  1. Kids are whining and I’m just looking for something to eat as quickly as I can after I prep their lunches.
  2. I’m throwing lunch together at 8AM and packing it in a cooler because we’ll be out and about around lunch (usually play dates).
  3. I’m completely exhausted and I want to eat my arm. But I have two toddlers so my arms are a bit of a necessity. I think I’ll keep them.
  4. The kids are whining.
  5. The kids are whining.

Oh wait, that’s five. I swear, kids go from happy and cheerful to grumpy and whining in about .00003 seconds — right after I mention the “L” word — lunch. I mean…can they just give me two seconds to make it? I try to get them to understand that I’d be able to make it a lot faster if they weren’t hanging on my leg and standing right in front of the refrigerator. Same applies for dinner, kiddos. Breakfast too, for that matter!

Overhead partial closeup of salad in bowl, on green plaid cloth.

About this barley salad:

Getting back to the point, this vegetarian salad is the perfect thing to grab out of the fridge once the kids are securely in their seats eating their lunch quietly and happily. At least happily. Quiet? Ha.

This salad is filling and healthy thanks to fiber-full barley. Barley also has about 4 grams of protein (at least that is what my internet research is telling me). As a main dish for lunch or dinner, you might want to add garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or feta cheese for an extra boost of protein. Either would be a perfect fit in this salad.

It has a great fresh Mediterranean flavor with cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley, enhanced with a light and simple dressing made from lemon juice and olive oil. Barley salad will keep in the fridge for up to three days and is perfect for lunchboxes. 

PS: This brand of barley is always a good bet.

PPS: This barley salad is vegan if you make it as written!

Overhead view of salad in bowl, garnished with sprig of parsley, with fork on green plaid cloth.

I’m also sharing the recipe for this barley salad over on Eat Your Heart Out.

Looking for more make-ahead salads?

Avoid the lunch crunch! Try making one of these filling salads which will keep a couple of days in the fridge:


Partial overhead closeup of barley salad in blue and white patterned bowl.

Barley Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber and Parsley

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This barley salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley is a refreshing, healthy, and filling summer salad. It works great as a side dish or as a complete meal.


  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley, cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • ⅓ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar seasoning (optional)


  1. If necessary, use a fork to fluff up barley and separate pieces. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley to barley; mix together.
  2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir lightly to coat the salad with the dressing. Sprinkle za'atar over salad, if desired.
  4. Serve immediately, or keep in fridge overnight prior to serving. If salad seems dry, feel free to add more dressing.


  • Barley will soak up some of the dressing if you make this salad ahead. You can either mix the dressing in right before serving or add more dressing.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 cup salad
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 215Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 136mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 6gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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