Black Barley, Purslane and Watermelon Salad


I featured watermelon in this recipe just last week. I wouldn’t normally showcase it again so soon, but this salad was SO good…I had to share!

The inspiration for my Black Barley, Purslane and Watermelon Salad was this Tabbouleh with Watermelon which appears in the July issue of Martha Stewart Living. I am a huge tabbouleh fan, and loved the idea of casting watermelon in a role that’s traditionally given to tomatoes.

Tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur wheat but I generally use gluten-free amaranth, millet, or quinoa in its place when I prepare it. In this salad, I tried out a grain that’s new to me: black barley. Black barley isn’t gluten-free, but it’s high in antioxidants, fiber, and protein. I like it’s hearty flavor and it’s interesting chewy texture (it really is quite chewy, which I like because it forces you take your time while you eat it).

If you eat gluten-free, switch out the barley for one of gluten free substitutes I mentioned above. Another option would be to use your favorite variety of rice. Make sure to cook whichever grain or seed you use according to its specific directions because the amount of water required and the cooking time will vary with each one.

I used parsley and basil from my herb garden here, plus I added some purslane (which grows all over my property). Purslane is considered a weed, but it’s so nutritious that I treat it like a plant I’d grow on purpose. It’s high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids so if it grows in your garden, you should consider yourself lucky and make use of it in your food. It takes a bit of work to pluck the leaves off the stems, but I enjoy them in green smoothies, and add them to salads like this one, and this one. If you don’t have a garden, you might be able to find purslane at your Farmer’s Market.

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Related Recipes:

My Amaranth Tabouli
My Winter Citrus Millet Taboulleh

Recipe for Black Barley, Purslane, and Watermelon Salad

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time35 minutes

Total Time45 minutes

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  • *3 cups water
  • *1 cup black barley rinsed well in a fine mesh strainer
  • *1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon diced into small cubes
  • *1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf or curly parsley
  • *1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • *1/2 cup fresh purslane leaves or additional parsley and basil
  • *1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • *3 tablespoons of your best olive oil
  • *1-2 tablespooons fresh lemon juice
  • *2 teaspoons finely grated well rinsed preserved lemon rind or microplaned lemon zest
  • *1/4 cup or more to taste crumbled feta cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in black barley and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 35-40 minutes, until water is absorbed. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, mix well, and allow to cool to room temperature.

  • 2. Combine cooled barley with with watermelon, herbs, purslane, garlic, olive oil, preserved lemon rind or lemon zest, and feta cheese. Mix gently, then serve with additional crumbled feta on top for garnish, if desired.


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