Serve up gorgeous bouquets of grilled broccolini on a bed of chewy barley, caramelised shallots and sweet dried cranberries. A grain and broccolini salad perfect for those cooler months or when you’re entertaining family and friends.
- Why You’ll Love Grilled Broccolini Salad
- What Is Broccolini?
- Where To Buy Broccolini?
- Can You Eat Broccolini Raw?
- How To Cut Broccolini?
- What is Pearl Barley?
- How To Cook Barley?
- Why Do You Have to Soak Barley?
- Is Barley Healthier Than Rice?
- Recipe Overview
- How to Assemble Salad
- Variations and Substitutions
- Great Mains for This Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why You’ll Love Grilled Broccolini Salad
You’ll love this grilled broccolini salad because broccolini is delicious! It is also a slightly different vegetable one would normally use in a salad. Always great to have a salad that doesn’t always have tomatoes, cucumbers or lettuce.
This grilled broccolini salad is also a grain salad which many people love. It is hearty and can be eaten as a main meal and shared with someone for lunch. This is a great way to use up any extra barley you may have in your pantry. Hard to finish a whole packet in a short period of time.
The presentation of the grilled broccolini is also a little bit of fun as you’re tying them into small bouquets with some scallion greens. Great for those entertaining days or a little fun way to encourage your kids to eat some greens.
What Is Broccolini?
If you have ever thought that broccolini is baby broccoli, you are not alone.
Broccolini is NOT immature broccoli. Broccolini is actually a hybrid vegetable that is a cross between broccoli and gai lan, which is also known as Chinese broccoli. I grew up with both, so I’m stoked someone was smart enough to marry the two!
The broccolini inherits its florets from the broccoli, although less compact and its stalks from the gai lan, which is crunchy and delightful. So delicious in our Broccolini Salad with Mushrooms as well.
Did you know you can also get purple broccolini? Try our Rustic Black Rice Salad with Purple Broccolini.
There are many ways to eat broccolini. You can shave them raw, steam, blanch, boil, roast and like this recipe, grilled. Grilled broccolini gives the vegetable lovely charred notes while still crunchy.
Where To Buy Broccolini?
Broccolini is now much more available than they ever used to be and available all year round. So you will be able to find them in your everyday supermarkets.
Can You Eat Broccolini Raw?
Yes, you can eat broccolini raw from the stems to the florets.
It is however not the most popular way of consuming the vegetable. It would be like eating broccoli raw, although you can, it’s not often practised. Perhaps shaving it or slicing it thinly for a broccolini salad would work.
Otherwise, a quick blanch to soften the stems and florets but not overcook them would be the closest you’d get to eating raw broccolini.
How To Cut Broccolini?
If the bottom of the broccolini stems looks fresh, you don’t have to cut broccolini at all. For this grilled broccolini recipe, we’re not cutting the vegetables in any way and enjoying them as they are.
But if you wish to, you can cut them lengthways, especially if the stems are particularly thick but wish to keep the length. You can cut them into 3 to make them more manageable for sauteing or stir fries. Cut the head of the floret and then in the stem into 2.
You can also cut them diagonally like you would asparagus. Suitable for steaming as you can then fit them into your steamer basket.
What is Pearl Barley?
Pearl barley is a refined grain that is harvested from the ears of barley. It is then polished or “pearled”, which means that the outer layer of the barley is removed, making it easier for cooking. A lightly pearled barley has a tan colour, while a well pearled barley is white.
The flavour of pearl barley is relatively neutral and doesn’t have any strong tastes. However, what we do like about it is its chewy texture and its ability to absorb all the flavours around it. So if you’re adding it to stews or soups, you can be sure they taste fantastic!
How To Cook Barley?
Cooking pearl barley is easy, especially when compared to its whole grain counterpart. Rinse the pearl barley before use to get rid of impurities. Just 1-part pearl barley to 3-4 parts water. Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
I suggest stirring it occasionally, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and watch the water level as sometimes it evaporates very quickly. Then drain, rinse and use as you need.
You can also cook pearl barley in an Instant Pot. Put the barley in the water and cook on high pressure on either pressure cook or manual settings for 20 minutes.
Then let the Instant Pot naturally release for 15 minutes. The upside to using the Instant Pot is that you don’t have to watch the boiling barley or stir it.
Why Do You Have to Soak Barley?
If you’ve been told that all barley needs to be soaked overnight, it is not true.
Pearl barley does not have to be soaked overnight as much of the outer layer of the barley has been polished off. Therefore, they will cook tenderly quite easily. Hence my preference is always to buy pearl barley instead of any other kind of barley.
Pot barley, on the other hand, although slightly polished, still has most of the barley bran intact. Thus pot barley needs to be soaked overnight to soften the grain to allow it to cook easily. The ratio is 1:3 of grain to water.
Is Barley Healthier Than Rice?
One is not healthier than the other as a general comparison. It depends on what is important to you should you feel you need to decide between the 2. Besides, it also depends entirely on what rice you’re comparing it to. For this exercise, we’re referring to brown rice.
First and foremost, barley contains gluten and is not suitable for consumption for those with Celiac Disease or who follow a gluten-free diet.
Both are carbohydrates, and while barley is higher in fibre, it has less nutrition value than rice. Rice has slightly higher calories and fat than barley.
Flavour/Texture: This grilled broccolini salad relies on its ingredients for flavours as it is a no dressing salad recipe. Just a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice will suffice.
The grilled broccolini is cooked to perfection as they are left intact from the stem to the florets. Grilling them helps to retain the crunch while giving it some char and smokey flavours.
The barley is soft and tender, while the pistachios offer nutty flavours and slight crunch, while the dried cranberries are soft and chewy with sweet and tart flavours.
Ease: This grilled broccolini salad requires a little bit of cooking, although it’s not complicated. Just adding barley to a pot of water and grilling the broccolini on a grill pan. The rest is easy to assemble.
Time: The pearl barley takes 30 minutes to cook, but while that is happening, you can grill the broccolini and prepare the rest of the salad. There is no dressing for this salad, so it’s one less step.
These are the ingredients you need for Grilled Broccolini Salad and Barley.
Broccolini: Get fresh and good quality broccolini. Make sure the stems aren’t wrinkled, and the florets aren’t browning or turning yellow. The leaves on the broccolini shouldn’t be wilted either.
Scallion stalks: We will need this for tossing through the salad and tying the grilled broccolini into bouquets.
Pearl barley: Pearl barley can keep for up to 3 months, so you have plenty of time to use the remaining leftovers. You will be able to find this in the dry goods or grain section of your supermarket. Make sure you get the pearl barley and not the pot barley.
Shallots: Saute chopped shallot until caramelised to give the broccolini some natural sweetness.
Pistachio: Adding some much needed nuttiness and crunch.
Dried cranberries: Love these pops of sweet and tart dried fruits.
Olive oil: Helps to bind the salad together and gives it a rich and silky finish. It will also ensure the barley goes stick together to create large clumps.
Lemon: Adding a squeeze of freshness to the broccolini salad.
Salt and pepper: To taste.
Step by step instructions for how to make Grilled Broccolini Salad and Barley.
Rinse pearl barley before use to get rid of any dirt or impurities.
In a medium sized saucepan, add ¾ cup of uncooked barley and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Watch the water level and add more if it evaporates too quickly. When cooked, drain, run under cold water and set aside to dry.
In a large sized mixing bowl, add broccolini, 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. In a grill pan on medium heat, grill broccolini for 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Remove the skin of the shallots. Slice very thinly. In a small frypan, add 1 tbsp of olive and fry shallots until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
Chop pistachio kernels.
Chop the green leaf of 1 scallion finely.
For the other 4 stalks, cut off the bulb. We only need the green leaves.
How to Assemble Salad
When the grilled broccolini has cooled, time to make 4 bouquets. Lay one scallion leaf horizontally. Place 4 grilled broccolini on top in a bunch. Using the leaf, tie the grilled broccolini together to resemble a small bouquet. Repeat 3 more times.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the barley, caramelised shallots, ½ chopped pistachio, ½ chopped scallions and dried cranberries. Then add 1 tbsp of olive oil, juice of ½ lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly until well combined.
On a large serving platter, place the barley salad.
Then add the 4 bouquets of grilled broccolini on top.
Sprinkle the rest of the chopped pistachios and scallion on top.
Serve. Perfect for that Christmas table!
Variations and Substitutions
Presentation of broccolini: Tying the grilled broccolini is, of course, not necessary but just a bit of fun in how a salad can be presented, especially if you’re entertaining—gorgeous little bundles of delicious vegetables.
Dried cranberries alternative: You can use any dried berries for this recipe. If you are worried about sugar content, try the unsweetened dried cranberries.
Type of barley: Any barley will do if you can’t find pearl barley specifically. You may need to soak it overnight and adjust cooking time pending on the type of barley you can get. You can also adjust cooking time if you like your barley al dente and still quite chewy.
Shallot alternative: You can caramelise onions if shallots are proving to be an expensive option.
Pistachio substitute: Pistachios offer not only great flavours but also the crunch that’s needed for this salad. They can also be an expensive add on so you can use sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead.
Great Mains for This Salad
What to serve with Grilled Broccolini Salad? Try these delicious main dish recipes.
Cornish game hens: This easy recipe delivers moist and tender roasted Cornish game hens that are infused with flavour from a homemade seasoning salt made with delicious herbs and spices. This grilled broccolini salad is the perfect side dish to serve with these hens.
Creamy pumpkin potato soup: If you’re up for a lighter dinner, you can make some thick and creamy pumpkin potato soup from scratch in just 30 minutes! The barley in this grilled broccolini salad is a fantastic accompaniment for the soup.
Pan seared duck breast: This duck breast recipe comes together so easily with just a few simple ingredients using a quick pan sear method on the stove top. The duck would go really well with some tender grilled broccolini and delicious pearl barley.
Frequently Asked Questions
Every part of a broccolini is edible from the stem to the florets. The leaves that sprout from the stems are therefore edible too. Some recipes will call to remove the leaves, but this is unnecessary if you wish to eat them.
To steam broccolini in the microwave, you have to submerge it in water.
Place the broccolini in a microwave-safe container, cover with water, and place the lid on top of the container. Put in the microwave at high heat for 2 minutes at a time until you achieve the level of crunchiness you desire.
This depends on what type of barley you have. Pearl barley, which is hulled barley or barley that has been polished to remove as much of the barley husk, will take about 25-30 minutes on boil.
Pot barley, which has most of its husk still intact, can take a further 20 – 25 minutes to cook as it absorbs less liquid and therefore takes longer to cook.
The best way to cook barley, whether it be pearl or pot barley, is to boil it. The general rule of thumb is 1 cup of barley to 3 cups of water. However, a bit of extra water won’t hurt the cooking process and will allow for evaporation.
This grilled broccolini salad is incredibly hearty and would make for a great lunch that you can pack up for work or have on its own. At the same time, the lovely bouquets and gorgeous colours are also great for festive celebrations and would make a great addition to your Christmas table. Whatever the occasion or if you simply have a craving, this salad will serve you well!
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Grilled Broccolini Salad and Barley
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- Rinse pearl barley before use.
- In a medium sized saucepan, add ¾ cup of uncooked barley and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Watch the water level and add more if evaporating too quickly. When cooked, drain, run under cold water and set aside to dry.
- In a large sized mixing bowl, add broccolini, 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. In a grill pan on medium heat, grill broccolini for 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Remove the skin of the shallots. Slice very thinly. In a small fry pan, add 1 tbsp of olive and fry shallots until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
- Chop pistachio kernels.
- Chop the green leaf of 1 sprig of spring onion finely.
- For the other 4 sprigs, cut off the bulb. We only need the green leaves.
- When the grilled broccolini has cooled, time to make 4 bouquets. Lay one spring onion leaf horizontally. Place 4 broccolini on top in a bunch. Using the leaf, tie the broccolini together to resemble a small bouquet of flowers. Repeat 3 more times.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the barley, caramelised shallots, ½ chopped pistachio, ½ chopped spring onions and dried cranberries. Then add 1 tbsp of olive oil, juice of ½ lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly until well combined.
- On a large serving platter, place the barley salad.
- Then add the 4 bouquets of grilled broccolini on top.
- Sprinkle with the rest of the chopped pistachios and spring onion on top.
- Tying the broccolini is of course not necessary but just a bit of fun in how a salad can be presented, especially if you’re entertaining. Gorgeous little bundles of delicious vegetables.
- You can use any dried berries for this recipe. If you are worried about sugar content, try the unsweetened dried cranberries.
- Any barley will do if you can’t find pearl barley specifically. You may need to adjust cooking time pending on the type of barley you can get. You can also adjust cooking time if you like your barley al dente and still quite chewy.
- You can caramelise onions if shallots are proving to be an expensive option.
- Pistachios not only offer great flavours but also the crunch that’s needed for this salad. They can also be an expensive add on so you can use sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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