1654 Barley Salad

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

I created this salad in 2005 in celebration of the 350th anniversary of Jews in America. The gardening technique practiced in Plymouth, MA, inspired this salad. 

Small squares of land were cultivated next to the colonists' houses to provide food for the families. The Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to commingle different crops in one square bed to enhance the growth of all. A fish head was buried in the center of a three-foot-square. Corn was planted directly on top to absorb the nitrogen from the decomposing head. Pole beans were planted around the corn to protect and and fertilize the corn as well. Cucumbers or squash were planted around the perimeter because their rough leaves kept animals and playful children away from the vegetation.

Tomatoes were native to the Americas but not necessarily used in salads until much later. I have included grape tomatoes for the modern palate.

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
24 red grape tomatoes cut in half horizontally
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 teaspoon minced (or 1/4 teaspoon dried) fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cloves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups frozen yellow corn, defrosted
1 cup frozen cut green beans, defrosted
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, jarred or fresh, diced
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup barley
4 cups water
Additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Combine the first 11 ingredients in a large glass serving bowl. Let marinate for at least 1/2 hour at room temperature.
  2. Defrost the corn and the green beans. Discard any accumulated liquid. Have all of your remaining ingredients ready while you cook the barley.
  3. Bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and then the barley. Stir to combine, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 40 minutes, until the barley is tender but not mushy.
  4. When the barley is done, quickly drain it (without rinsing) and pour it over the tomato mixture. Toss with the remaining ingredients. Add more salt and pepper as needed.



Additional Notes
  • The easiest way to peel a clove of garlic is to lightly smash it under the flat side of a large knife. The peel will then easily pull away.
  • When working with hot peppers, place your hand in a plastic bag while slicing to prevent the pepper oils from burning your skin.