Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad


Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

cauliflower salad on a white plate

This Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad is one of those perfect lunch salads that can take a week in the fridge and only gets better for it. We’ve had it twice in the past couple weeks and it made a perfectly satisfying dinner on its own, over greens, or with a poached egg on top.

Lunches in Bangkok are always an adventure. There are easily 100 places within a five minute walk of my office to buy noodles in spicy sauce or wok-fried vegetables with rice or a steamy bowl of rich herby soup. Every vendor has a specialty, and it’s hard to walk anywhere in this town without being tempted. One of my colleagues told me that when he went on vacation to the U.S. he was shocked by how expensive and hidden away the food is. In Bangkok, it’s in your face, it’s cheap, and it’s amazing.

Nevertheless, even after four years in Bangkok, I’m still most often a brown-bag lunch kind of girl. I like to cook (ahem, food blog), and I like knowing exactly what I’m eating. But to compete with all that Thai food glory, it better be easy and it better be really good.

adding dressing to warm cauliflower salad in a clear glass bowl

I tweaked the original from Bon Appétit mostly to add some crunch from toasted pine nuts and to roast the cauliflower rather than sauté and steam it. I’m a sucker for roast cauliflower with its nutty flavor and crisp caramelized edges.

mixing cauliflower salad in a clear glass bowl

As the weather gets cooler (slightly cooler here, but much cooler for many others out there), this is a perfect salad for the transition. Healthy, but warm and hearty in a deeply satisfying way.

cauliflower salad on a white plate

More Easy Salad Recipes

Favorite Tools

Pin this now to save it for later

Pin It Now
5 from 2 votes

Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad

This Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad is one of those perfect lunch salads that can take a week in the fridge and only gets better for it. It makes a perfectly satisfying dinner on its own, over greens, or with a poached egg on top.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings


  • Half Sheet Pan or Large Baking Dish
  • Saucepan
  • Mixing Bowls


  • 1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 6 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 cup Pearled Barley
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated Lemon Zest
  • 3 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 15 oz can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley Leaves, divided
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Tarragon Leaves, divided


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss cauliflower in 1 tablespoon oil and spread in a single layer in a large baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning with a spatula halfway through, until the florets are golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside, about 30 minutes.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden - about 5 minutes. Set toasted pine nuts aside and return the saucepan to the heat. Add barley and enough water to cover by two inches.
  • Season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain; run under cold water. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and 5 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper; set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine cauliflower, barley, beans, pine nuts, 1/4 cup parsley, 1 tablespoon tarragon, and half of reserved dressing. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide salad among bowls; drizzle remaining dressing over. Garnish with lemon zest, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1 tablespoon tarragon.


Adapted from Bon Appetit's March 2013 Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad.
The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of mayo to be added to the dressing. I found it to be unnecessary, but I liked the vinaigrette both with and without the mayo addition (a bit creamier with the mayo, of course).

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $8.00
Keyword: cauliflower recipe, easy dinner, lunch, vegan recipe, vegetarian
Like this? Leave a comment below!Jump to Comments

And I’ll end here with a little shout-out to Clara…world’s littlest kitchen assistant.  (And no disrespect to The Essential New York Times Cookbook – it’s great for cooking and also for giving a boost to short babies  in their jumparoos.)

Clara :: Inquiring Chef

*This post contains affiliate links*

Want to save this recipe?
Get it emailed to you directly! Enter your email below.

About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Jess, this salad is calling my name! I’ve been on a cauliflower kick lately, and this warm salad with barley and white beans? Yummers! I’m a brown bagger myself, and am always looking for good make ahead packable lunch ideas. Thanks for the recipe, it’ll be turning up in my lunch box in no time!

  2. This salad is delicious! I saw your blog on Frank’s Facebook page (I worked at PC/HQ) and tried this recipe for my lunches this week. So tasty and satisfying. Thank you!

    1. Shelley- Thanks so much for your note – So glad you liked it! Hope you’re enjoying fall back in DC….we’re missing it this year!