Recipe: Sesame Barley Salad with Seaweed, Sesame, and Cucumber

The nuttiness of barley pairs beautifully with juicy cucumber, savory seaweed, and toasted sesame. Although underappreciated in the U.S., sea vegetables like wakame provide satisfying umami flavor and are more nutrient-dense than land vegetables. Serves 4-6.

  • 1 cup pearled barley, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • Pinch sea salt (optional)
  • 1 shallot bulb, minced (1-2 teaspoons)
  • 1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced or 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (brown or black)
  • 1/4 dried nori seaweed* (3 sheets if using sheets of nori), cut into 1-inch by 1/4-inch strips with scissors

Add barley to pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until barley is tender, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, transfer to large bowl, and cool to room temperature. Barley can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Meanwhile, whisk rice wine vinegar with grapeseed oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, and shallot.

Once barley has cooled, toss with sesame dressing, cucumber,  sesame seeds, and 2/3 of nori strips. Top with remaining nori and serve at room temperature.

*Nori is a slightly nutty, savory sea vegetable often used in sushi and soups. You can find dried nori in the Asian aisle of many grocery stores, at Asian grocery or health food stores, or purchase it online.