Greek Chicken and Barley Salad

Feta cheese – yum.  It is just one of the many cheeses I always try and keep in the refrigerator.  I love making Greek Salads – but truly, my favorite part is the feta.  When I graduated from college, I went back to Europe to travel for a couple of weeks before I started my job – my time in France my junior year gave me such a bug, that I had to go back to visit a few places I had missed.  One of those places was Amsterdam.  I ended up meeting a friend of mine from High School there, and we went to this Mediterranean café for dinner – I normally try to stick to the specialties of the region, but this place was packed – and the food looked amazing.  I had a greek salad that night that I will never forget.  The feta was so fresh and delicious, I finished off the leftovers on my friend’s plate as well – he was laughing at my determination to not waste a single bite.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and it happened to win an award – how could I pass it up?  The barley in the salad make it particularly intriguing to me – that is not a grain I have cooked before, although I do love it.  I thought the nuttiness of the barley would go perfectly with the feta cheese – and I was right.  The best part of all though was the lemon vinaigrette – use it sparingly, but boy what a burst of flavor it brought to the dish.  We had some friends over for dinner that night, and it was a huge hit.  I can see why it won an award.



  • 2  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/8  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1  cup  uncooked pearl barley
  • 2  cups  cubed seeded cucumber
  • 1  cup  grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2  cup  cubed yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3  cup  reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1/4  cup  chopped pitted kalamata olives


  • 3  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh basil
  • 1  teaspoon  minced fresh thyme
  • 1  teaspoon  red wine vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced


To prepare salad, sprinkle chicken with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Add 1 cup broth; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until done. Cool; shred chicken. Discard broth.

Bring 3 cups broth to a boil in a large saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Cool. Combine chicken, barley, cucumber, and next 4 ingredients (through olives) in a large bowl.

To prepare dressing, combine 3 tablespoons oil, rind, and remaining ingredients; stir well. Add to barley mixture; toss well. Cover and chill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Greek Salad and Barley Salad

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4 thoughts on “Greek Chicken and Barley Salad

  1. Dawn,

    I’ve made a dish like this before with a very similar dressing but it was with orzo instead of barley. I’ll have to try it with barley, sounds delectable. As always, thanks for the cooking tip.

  2. Hey Dawn,
    This recipe is about to get easier as Village Harvest frozen pre-cooked grains are now available in Seattle.. Or at least coming soon to Whole Foods. You could do this recipe with brown rice or quinoa, but in a few months a barley wheatberry blend is going to be coming out…It’ll be perfect. Keep up the good work. The site looks beautiful as always. M

  3. So I’m seriously salivating. I would eat this dish 5x/day if I could, and if I could get kids/hubby around it!
    I might just make it and eat it for lunch daily. That is right up my ally!

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