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  • Writer's pictureShannon Crocker, RD PHEc

Mediterranean-Inspired Veggie, Tuna and Barley Salad

two bowls of veggie, tuna and barley salad with larger serving bowl in background
Mediterranean-Inspired Veggie, Tuna and Barley Salad

Looking for a tasty twist on tuna salad? This meal borrows a few flavours from the Mediterranean and uses lots of colourful veggies and fibre-rich barley for a satisfying dinner or packed-lunch option.

If beef barley soup is your only experience withe barley, you're missing out on so many amazingly delicious opportunities!

Barley is an under-rated Canadian-grown grain that has a delicious nutty flavour and a satisfyingly chewy texture. And it’s rich in heart-healthy fibre, which helps to reduce cholesterol.

It's also tasty in grain-based salads, like this tuna and veggie-packed version below.

5 things I love about this salad:

1. It's easy to make and leftovers keep for up to three days, making terrific lunches. Just top your greens with the barley salad and sprinkle with the extra dressing, cheese and seeds right before serving to keep everything fresh and crunchy.

2. Dynamic duo! A serving of this recipe is an excellent source of vitamin C and iron. The vitamin C from the veggies boosts the amount of iron you absorb, and iron helps deliver oxygen to your body and brain, helping you feel energized.

3. It's packed with protein thanks to the tuna; protein plus all the fibre from the veggies, along with the healthy fat in the dressing, create a satisfying combo so you can stay energized for longer.

4. You can make it how you like it: Switch up the protein, grain and veggies, depending on what you have on hand or what’s on sale. Don’t have romaine? Use spinach. Have canned salmon or chickpeas, instead of tuna? Go for it! No barley? Use cooked quinoa or brown rice or orzo pasta.

5. It's a nourishing meal that's easy on your wallet and big on taste. Because when it comes to your health, you don’t need to make trade-offs.

Mediterranean-Inspired Veggie, Tuna and Barley Salad

Makes about 6 servings

INGREDIENTS 2 cups (500 mL) uncooked pearled barley 2 cups (500 mL) chopped cucumber 2 large tomatoes, cored and diced 2 carrots, peeled and grated 2 green onions, sliced 3 cans (170 g each) light tuna, drained and flaked 12 cups (3 L) lightly packed torn or chopped romaine lettuce (about 1 large head) 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) crumbled feta cheese (optional) 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) shelled unsalted sunflower seeds (optional)

LEMON-OREGANO DRESSING 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon zest 2⁄3 cup (150 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) canola oil 4 tsp (20 mL) liquid honey 1 large clove garlic, pressed 1 1⁄2 tsp (7 mL) dried oregano 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS 1. Cook barley according to package instructions, omitting salt; drain and let cool, or rinse under cold water to cool quickly. 2. Lemon-Oregano Dressing: In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together lemon zest and juice, oil, honey, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. 3. In a large bowl, gently toss cooled barley, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, onions and tuna with half of the dressing until coated. 4. Divide lettuce among plates. Top with barley mixture and sprinkle with feta cheese and sunflower seeds, if using. If desired, serve remaining dressing on the side. Cover and refrigerate any remaining dressing for up to three days. ereeHe

Note: The barley will soak up the dressing, so saving half the dressing to drizzle over top spreads the dressing love to the greens and toppings. Double the dressing and save it in the fridge for other uses like salads, pasta or potato salad.

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