- Rinse the barley and put it in a saucepan with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Add a large pinch of salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 20 minutes from the time the water boils. Drain and spread on a plate to cool (if you’re in a hurry, you can rinse under cold water for a minute or so).
- Meanwhile, if you’re using an English cucumber (or other virtually seedless cucumber), simply cut it into bite-sized chunks. If you’re using a cucumber with lots of big seeds, peel it, cut it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Cut it into chunks, put in a colander or strainer, and sprinkle with about a tablespoon of salt. Let sit for 20 minutes or so, then rinse and drain well.
- Toss together the barley, cucumber, and scallions in a salad bowl; sprinkle with pepper. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and yogurt. Toss this dressing with the cucumber mixture, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the herb(s), toss all together, and serve.
Barley and Cress Salad. Omit the scallions and yogurt. Add 3 cups trimmed watercress and use the dill. Proceed with the recipe, adding the cress along with the herbs.
Barley Salad with Peas and Yogurt-Dill Dressing. Instead of the cucumber, use 11/2 cups cooked and shocked fresh or frozen peas (see page 240). Fresh sugar snap peas are a rare seasonal treat that work great in this salad too.
Barley Salad with Cucumber and Smoked Salmon. In Step 3, add 1 cup smoked salmon pieces to the salad bowl and toss with the other ingredients.