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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