Pesto, Barley & Edamame Salad

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pesto barley edamame salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

One of my favorite parts about where I live is that I have friends close by. This is convenient and enjoyable for many reasons, but the at the top of the list is probably the sentence: “I made extra __________ for dinner, want to come over?” I’ve been on both the uttering and receiving end of that very sentence a pleasant many times and most recently, the stars aligned when I had extra salmon and my neighbor had extra salad.

Combined, we had an actual meal.

Though I’ve never been disappointed by one of my friend Angie’s Greek or spinach salads (she makes kick-ass salad dressings and I wouldn’t say that lightly), this was a nice change from leafy greens. Think: flavorful pesto sauce combined with hearty barley dotted with edamame. There is nothing bad about anything in that sentence and it was even better cold the next day.

The recipe was slightly adapted from another food blog. We had a little snafu during the pesto-making process and wound up adding extra lemon juice as well as spinach to the pesto recipe, only to discover that we kinda liked it that way. Though the spinach wasn’t in the original version, I am a big fan of adding spinach to pesto sauce. It has little impact on the flavor but adds to the nutritional profile.

pesto barley edamame salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Pesto, Barley & Edamame Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4

  • For the pesto:
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup slivered raw almonds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons. lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • For the salad:
  • 4 cups cooked barley (about 2 cups uncooked prepared according to package directions)*
  • 1 pound. shelled, frozen edamame beans
  1. Prepare the pesto. Blend by blending all of the ingredients together in a food processor until the ingredients are completely combined (and no longer visible individually). Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, blanch the edamame. Set aside a bowl of cold ice water large enough to hold all of the edamame. Boil edamame in a pot for about five minutes until they are tender but still firm. Drain in a colander and pour directly into the ice water, which stops them from cooking further and keeps them firm and crisp.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cooked barley with the edamame and half the pesto mixture. Taste and add more pesto if needed. Continue tasting and adding more sauce until you are satisfied with the ratio of pesto to barley. Save leftover pesto in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze it in a plastic bag for up to a month. 4 – 6 main servings as a main dish.
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  1. says

    Holy cow, how did I miss this post this week? I love edamame and this is a great use for it! Love the pesto barley combo. Brilliant!

  2. says

    aww thats great having friends so close by! ive never had barley in savoury form before, always as a type of dessert so this is really interesting! love the green too!

  3. says

    I’ve never thought to make a barley salad. I’ve really been wanting to make grain salads more. I have some millet that’s been kicking around the pantry that I really need to cook with.

  4. says

    What a healthy and original salad! I bet it tastes wonderful.

    I wish I had friends who lived near by. I’d love to share some of my goodies with them…



  5. says

    I know what you mean about the friends near by, and I give them sweets/desserts usually…else I’d be eating waaay too much sugar and butter.
    The salad sounds delicious.

  6. says

    oh my, this looks fabulous; i love pesto for sooooo many reasons, not the least of which are dishes like this one ~ and i have to say that i’m quite jealous that you live in an area where you get to share food – LOVE THAT!

  7. says

    Hmm I wish I’m your neighbor… =) I love Americans using Edamame for versatile dish. Growing up, Edamame was just Edamame… you know peas in the pod salted as appetizer. They are in school bento, snack for dad’s beer… that’s about it. I really like seeing Edamame in many kinds of dishes here. And this is fantastic salad too!

  8. says

    This looks awesome! And I love your food sharing habits with friends :) We just had new neighbors move in across the street and we are both tentatively starting to do the same. It’s awesome!

  9. says

    I’ve been eating edamame for lunch and dinner for two or three days now – but I think this might trump just about anything I’ve made! I can’t resist pesto in any way, shape or form!

  10. says

    i’ve never cooked/made barley before but this looks so tasty, may have to tab this one for a future meal too. seriously you just make my future meals better, haha.

  11. says

    It’s so nice to be able to share food like that. We do that with family nearby and it makes it extra special. I’m a huge fan of “grain” salads and yours looks fantastic. I love the combination of flavors. I’m “pinning” this one for sure. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. I, also, want to thank you for stopping by my blog today and leaving such a sweet comment. I appreciate it very much. Have a wonderful evening!

  12. says

    Hi Maris, I LOVE that you are close to your friends and share dinners!!! Foodie friends make very good friends indeed!!!! :) Speaking of good, this recipe looks better than good, it looks great! Thanks for sharing. Hope your Wednesday has gone well.

  13. says

    I love sharing fabulous meals with friends, but even more than that I enjoy sharing fabulous meals with my Grandma! We’re both foodies, so things can get a little crazy and the family thinks we’re kind of strange for swooning over the newest balsamic vinegars or oils, but we have a great time together. I bet she would love this — pesto is her favorite!

  14. says

    I’ve recently fell in love with edamame – it’s a great way to get some protein on my meatless days. This recipe is being bookmarked for sure!

  15. says

    Okay so I love pesto, I love barley and I love love love edamame so basically you made this dish with me in mind-right? Great and beautiful dish that I can’t wait to get in my tummy!LOL!

  16. says

    I could add pesto to just about any meal and I’d be super happy. This is the quintessential summer salad, especially with barley, one of my favorite grains!

  17. says

    I love the sound of the almond and spinach in this and using the barley instead of pasta. It’s really difficult to get barley here, that just makes me want it even more!!

  18. says

    I love the flavors and healthfulness of this salad. You can’t go wrong with pesto flavors and then using it with barley…definitely good stuff. Great dish that can be either a main or side!

  19. says

    Hi Maris,
    Sounds like a great evening. Have you ever tried farro before, I love it and it has a nice texture like barley, but I think it cooks quicker. Hope you are having a great week.

  20. says

    Yea! More pesto! I haven’t done almonds with pesto, but looks fabulous. I can’t eat the barley, but bet it would be great with pasta or quinoa too. Great to share food with friends :-)

  21. says

    Share? Blink, blink…I don’t know the meaning of that! :-p
    Love the vibrant colors of this dish! I enjoy barley so much, the chewy texture is so enjoyable.

  22. says

    I need to start utilizing grains more. For whatever reason I’m not feeling the barley, but that picture does look delish, and I LOVE pesto and edamame so perhapsssss I’d enjoy it!

    Again thanks for all the lovely comments! :)

  23. says

    I LOVE edamame with a capital L. It’s one of my favorite go-to snacks when I want something but don’t want something bad. Great mix up!

  24. says

    I love that you live near friends and have the opportunity to share whatever you make/whatever they make. That has been one of my favorite things about moving back to Louisiana for us… we have a ton of friends down here, and we end up having tons of impromptu dinner parties because of this.

    And this pesto sounds incredible. I’d never had spinach in pesto until a few weeks ago, and this sounds like the perfect summery meal that I am going to have to make soon. Maybe tonight!


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