Pesto, Barley & Edamame Salad

Cooking for a Crowd, Cooking for One or Two, Recipes, Worknight Dinners
pesto barley edamame salad
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pesto barley edamame salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

One of my favorite parts about where I live is that I have friends close by. This is convenient and enjoyable for many reasons, but the at the top of the list is probably the sentence: “I made extra __________ for dinner, want to come over?” I’ve been on both the uttering and receiving end of that very sentence a pleasant many times and most recently, the stars aligned when I had extra salmon and my neighbor had extra salad.

Combined, we had an actual meal.

Though I’ve never been disappointed by one of my friend Angie’s Greek or spinach salads (she makes kick-ass salad dressings and I wouldn’t say that lightly), this was a nice change from leafy greens. Think: flavorful pesto sauce combined with hearty barley dotted with edamame. There is nothing bad about anything in that sentence and it was even better cold the next day.

The recipe was slightly adapted from another food blog. We had a little snafu during the pesto-making process and wound up adding extra lemon juice as well as spinach to the pesto recipe, only to discover that we kinda liked it that way. Though the spinach wasn’t in the original version, I am a big fan of adding spinach to pesto sauce. It has little impact on the flavor but adds to the nutritional profile.

pesto barley edamame salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Pesto, Barley & Edamame Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4

  • For the pesto:
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup slivered raw almonds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons. lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • For the salad:
  • 4 cups cooked barley (about 2 cups uncooked prepared according to package directions)*
  • 1 pound. shelled, frozen edamame beans
  1. Prepare the pesto. Blend by blending all of the ingredients together in a food processor until the ingredients are completely combined (and no longer visible individually). Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, blanch the edamame. Set aside a bowl of cold ice water large enough to hold all of the edamame. Boil edamame in a pot for about five minutes until they are tender but still firm. Drain in a colander and pour directly into the ice water, which stops them from cooking further and keeps them firm and crisp.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cooked barley with the edamame and half the pesto mixture. Taste and add more pesto if needed. Continue tasting and adding more sauce until you are satisfied with the ratio of pesto to barley. Save leftover pesto in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze it in a plastic bag for up to a month. 4 – 6 main servings as a main dish.
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  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Holy cow, how did I miss this post this week? I love edamame and this is a great use for it! Love the pesto barley combo. Brilliant!

  • Reply
    August 5, 2011 at 7:45 am

    aww thats great having friends so close by! ive never had barley in savoury form before, always as a type of dessert so this is really interesting! love the green too!

  • Reply
    Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet
    August 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Beautiful salad. All things I enjoy!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Another great salad, Maris!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve never thought to make a barley salad. I’ve really been wanting to make grain salads more. I have some millet that’s been kicking around the pantry that I really need to cook with.

  • Reply
    Easy Entertaining: Summer Picnic Potluck in the Park
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  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Yum. Edamame is one of my favorite snacks, when I remember to buy it!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 7:40 am

    We eat edamame a lot…and wish we ate barley more often! This is a super combo in a salad, Maris.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 7:39 am

    What a healthy and original salad! I bet it tastes wonderful.

    I wish I had friends who lived near by. I’d love to share some of my goodies with them…



  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    August 4, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Happy Thursday!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 5:24 am

    I know what you mean about the friends near by, and I give them sweets/desserts usually…else I’d be eating waaay too much sugar and butter.
    The salad sounds delicious.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 5:04 am

    oh my, this looks fabulous; i love pesto for sooooo many reasons, not the least of which are dishes like this one ~ and i have to say that i’m quite jealous that you live in an area where you get to share food – LOVE THAT!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Pesto sauce has always been such a fav of mine and usually eat with pasta or orzo. This would be a great dish to try too.

  • Reply
    Nami | Just One Cookbook
    August 4, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Hmm I wish I’m your neighbor… =) I love Americans using Edamame for versatile dish. Growing up, Edamame was just Edamame… you know peas in the pod salted as appetizer. They are in school bento, snack for dad’s beer… that’s about it. I really like seeing Edamame in many kinds of dishes here. And this is fantastic salad too!

  • Reply
    Baking Serendipity
    August 3, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    This looks awesome! And I love your food sharing habits with friends 🙂 We just had new neighbors move in across the street and we are both tentatively starting to do the same. It’s awesome!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Pesto, barley, edamame…you have just combined some of my favorite healthy ingredients in this salad! Yummy!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve been eating edamame for lunch and dinner for two or three days now – but I think this might trump just about anything I’ve made! I can’t resist pesto in any way, shape or form!

  • Reply
    The Harried Cook
    August 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Barley is something I don’t cook enough with, but this recipe sounds yummy 🙂 I love pesto and I think I can eat anything if there’s enough pesto on it! Great post, Maris!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    what a fabulous salad! i, too, am a fan of adding spinach to pesto. yum 🙂

    • Reply
      February 16, 2012 at 4:57 am

      Thninkig like that shows an expert’s touch

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    i’ve never cooked/made barley before but this looks so tasty, may have to tab this one for a future meal too. seriously you just make my future meals better, haha.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    It’s so nice to be able to share food like that. We do that with family nearby and it makes it extra special. I’m a huge fan of “grain” salads and yours looks fantastic. I love the combination of flavors. I’m “pinning” this one for sure. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I, also, want to thank you for stopping by my blog today and leaving such a sweet comment. I appreciate it very much. Have a wonderful evening!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    mmm. Pesto is awesome, and I like the idea of adding spinach.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Maris, I LOVE that you are close to your friends and share dinners!!! Foodie friends make very good friends indeed!!!! 🙂 Speaking of good, this recipe looks better than good, it looks great! Thanks for sharing. Hope your Wednesday has gone well.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I love sharing fabulous meals with friends, but even more than that I enjoy sharing fabulous meals with my Grandma! We’re both foodies, so things can get a little crazy and the family thinks we’re kind of strange for swooning over the newest balsamic vinegars or oils, but we have a great time together. I bet she would love this — pesto is her favorite!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I’ve recently fell in love with edamame – it’s a great way to get some protein on my meatless days. This recipe is being bookmarked for sure!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I think I need to move closer to you. This looks delicious. I love pesto with spinach in it, too. It adds and earthiness that I like a lot.

  • Reply
    emily (a nutritionist eats)
    August 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Pesto in the summer – nothing better!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 10:29 am

    What an awesome dish!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Another great summer meal!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 8:31 am

    This looks like a deliciously healthy salad! Never thought of barley in a salad but this seems like a great recipe!

  • Reply
    lisa {smart food and fit}
    August 3, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I love pesto, it works with many dishes. What a great combination of grean vegetables and the edamame looks awesome!

  • Reply
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    August 3, 2011 at 7:28 am

    How awesome it is that you are able to share with each other! I need some foodie friends near me.

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    August 3, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Okay so I love pesto, I love barley and I love love love edamame so basically you made this dish with me in mind-right? Great and beautiful dish that I can’t wait to get in my tummy!LOL!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 6:56 am

    I could add pesto to just about any meal and I’d be super happy. This is the quintessential summer salad, especially with barley, one of my favorite grains!

  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    August 3, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Pout. I wish I had more people to drag over for dinner.

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I love the sound of the almond and spinach in this and using the barley instead of pasta. It’s really difficult to get barley here, that just makes me want it even more!!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 3:47 am

    Now, I wish my friends live in my neighborhood!

  • Reply
    August 3, 2011 at 2:44 am

    I wish you lived near me, so that you can say I can come for dinner 😀

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    August 3, 2011 at 1:46 am

    I’m with you on adding spinach! It adds a lot but doesn’t really affect the taste! 😀

  • Reply
    Junia @ Mis Pensamientos
    August 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    yay for vegan clean eating!!! whooohooo! this is an awesome recipe, full of flavor, packed with protein, healthy fat, and good carbs. 😀

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Maris…I love the addition of spinach to the pesto! And I love edamame! What I am intrigued and excited to try is the barley….as a salad! Nice to see it outside of a soup! : )

  • Reply
    Lisa from Lisas Yarns
    August 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    That looks good! I love anything with edmame. Or pesto. That is so awesome tha tyou have friends near by that you can invite over if you have extras or vice versa!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I love the flavors and healthfulness of this salad. You can’t go wrong with pesto flavors and then using it with barley…definitely good stuff. Great dish that can be either a main or side!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Maris,
    Sounds like a great evening. Have you ever tried farro before, I love it and it has a nice texture like barley, but I think it cooks quicker. Hope you are having a great week.

  • Reply
    Heather @girlichef
    August 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Mmmmmm….that looks SUPER tasty. Great combo 😀

  • Reply
    T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types
    August 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    A great, colorful salad. I’ve been looking for ideas on what to do with the frozen edamame I’ve bought in Whole Foods – this is a terrific idea!

  • Reply
    EA-The Spicy RD
    August 2, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Yea! More pesto! I haven’t done almonds with pesto, but looks fabulous. I can’t eat the barley, but bet it would be great with pasta or quinoa too. Great to share food with friends 🙂

  • Reply
    Daryl (Mom)
    August 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I have come to really like endamame even though I still cannot pronounce it!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Share? Blink, blink…I don’t know the meaning of that! :-p
    Love the vibrant colors of this dish! I enjoy barley so much, the chewy texture is so enjoyable.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    August 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I eat edamame almost every day. This looks delish!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    great salad never used barley before and thanks for your kind comment but your the pro 🙂

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I need to start utilizing grains more. For whatever reason I’m not feeling the barley, but that picture does look delish, and I LOVE pesto and edamame so perhapsssss I’d enjoy it!

    Again thanks for all the lovely comments! 🙂

  • Reply
    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.
    August 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    These are some of my favorite ingredients all in one salad

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    aren’t friends the best? yummy salad, love the color!!

  • Reply
    alyssa - fashion fitness foodie
    August 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Yum!!!! Living with friends close by is the best 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah (everydaysapicnic)
    August 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Wow, three of my favourite things in one recipe! This one has been bookmarked.

  • Reply
    amy @ fearless homemaker
    August 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    i hear ya! i’m so thankful that lots of our friends + family live within minutes of our house. they’re my taste-testers + always willing to come over + help eat with us! we’re a lucky bunch. =)

  • Reply
    natalie (the sweets life)
    August 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    ha love it, i did the SAME thing with friends last night 🙂

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I LOVE edamame with a capital L. It’s one of my favorite go-to snacks when I want something but don’t want something bad. Great mix up!

  • Reply
    August 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    This looks so lovely! And I love that you can share food with your friends like that!

  • Reply
    Erin @ The Speckled Palate
    August 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I love that you live near friends and have the opportunity to share whatever you make/whatever they make. That has been one of my favorite things about moving back to Louisiana for us… we have a ton of friends down here, and we end up having tons of impromptu dinner parties because of this.

    And this pesto sounds incredible. I’d never had spinach in pesto until a few weeks ago, and this sounds like the perfect summery meal that I am going to have to make soon. Maybe tonight!

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