My Favorite Salad

I eat a lot of salads throughout the year, even in the winter. I love all salad ingredients – lettuces, avocados, beets, raw vegetables, grilled meat or fish, some nuts or seeds and cheese… I love to mix them up and also pair with dressings and vinaigrettes.

But then, there’s this one salad I’ve actually made multiple times for friends. (My husband doesn’t eat salads.) I don’t remember the source of the recipe, because mine was a magazine recipe cut and glued to an index card from decades ago.

It’s a composed salad, and these are the ingredients: Barley, purple cabbage, carrots, celery, dried cherries, and feta cheese. Intrigued? I was, and now I’m hooked.

It’s very pretty served layered in a trifle dish, or any deep clear bowl. Each component is treated separately for maximum flavor.

The recipe is really in two parts. One part, the vinaigrette. The other part, the salad itself.

My Favorite Salad

In a small blender, combine
1 cup of good olive oil
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 large lemons
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of Dijon-style mustard
Blend until smooth.

2 cups hulled barley
Grated carrots, about 5 cups
1 whole purple cabbage, thinly sliced, about 5 cups
1/2 head celery, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
12 ounces crumbled goat cheese

First prepare the vinaigrette. Set aside at room temperature.

Cook the barley in 4 cups of water or broth if you prefer. Let cool. Once it’s almost room temperature, mix the barley with about 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and set aside.

Place the grated carrots in a small bowl and add about 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette, stir well, and set aside.

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and toss with about 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Have the rest of the ingredients handy.

Place the sliced celery in a smaller bowl and add a tablespoon of vinaigrette. Toss well and set aside.

Layer half of the barley in the bottom of your salad serving bowl or dish. Cover with the celery.

Then add half of the cherries. And top with half of the goat cheese.

Then cover with 1/2 of the cabbage. Then all of the carrots.

Then the remaining barley.

Top off with the last of the dried cherries and goat cheese.

Let the salad sit for at least an hour. Or, make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight, letting all of the flavors meld together. But serve at room temperature.

I also serve this salad with extra vinaigrette for those who want that extra hit of vinegar.

And, if this salad is for those who require protein, it is fabulous with added grilled chicken or avocado.

Mix and match your favorite ingredients – lentils would work instead of barley, for example – and I’m not a huge celery fan, which is why I only allowed one layer of it. But do include the dried cherries and goat cheese!

By Published On: March 29th, 2019119 Comments on My Favorite Salad

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. thecompletebook September 14, 2013 at 9:48 AM - Reply

    It’s easy to see why this your favourite salad Mimi, fabulous combination of ingredients.
    :-) Mandy xo

    • chef mimi September 14, 2013 at 10:47 AM - Reply

      yah. Although I’ll go with regular barley next time because the dark color was a bit haunting!

  2. richardmcgary September 14, 2013 at 9:57 AM - Reply

    Very nice, Mimi. Looks and sounds delicious!

    • chef mimi September 14, 2013 at 10:46 AM - Reply

      Thanks. It is really good if you like that sort of thing. Give me that over cake any day!

  3. mycookinglifebypatty September 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM - Reply

    That is a lovely presentation for salad that I had not seen before. Usually you see that type of glass bowl full of cake and whipped cream. I’d choose your grain salad over that any day!

    • chef mimi September 14, 2013 at 10:45 AM - Reply

      It’s one of those lovely chewy salads that takes time to eat!!!

  4. trixfred30 September 14, 2013 at 10:27 AM - Reply

    I’d love to get my hands on one of those bowls

    • chef mimi September 14, 2013 at 10:45 AM - Reply

      go for it. it’s made just for trifles.

  5. sweetbakedlife September 14, 2013 at 10:32 AM - Reply

    This looks so beautiful! Can’t wait to try!

    • chef mimi September 14, 2013 at 10:45 AM - Reply

      Thanks! It’s really good, and healthy!

  6. myhomefoodthatsamore September 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM - Reply

    Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Food served in glasses being called “verrines” … what do we call this amazing piece of architectural salad ? Grande Saladine? Fabulous!

    • chef mimi September 14, 2013 at 11:18 AM - Reply

      I always call it a composed salad, but I’m really not sure if that’s a technical term or not!!!

      • Jeff the Chef April 23, 2021 at 10:46 AM

        It’s always been my impression that that is the term for any savory salad that you artfully arrange, instead of toss … although I’m not sure if “layered” is a subcategory of “composed,” or a different category. Who cares? What matters is, this looks delicious.

      • chef mimi April 24, 2021 at 7:50 AM

        Thank you!

  7. flippenblog September 14, 2013 at 1:32 PM - Reply

    I can just imagine the crunch. Looks so good.

  8. johnnysenough hepburn September 14, 2013 at 5:55 PM - Reply

    So glad you mentioned about the celery. Oddly, one of my favourite (and simplest) soups is celery. Unfortunately, can’t stand the smell of it raw!
    – Sour cherries with pearl barley – I’m stealing that as well :)

  9. yummychunklet September 14, 2013 at 7:24 PM - Reply

    Wonderful layered salad.

  10. laurasmess September 14, 2013 at 10:42 PM - Reply

    What a beautiful salad Mimi! I love the different layers in it. I wish I could get my hands on some dried cherries. They’re so expensive over here. I might try this and substitute dried cranberries? I’m sure it’ll still be delicious xx

    • chef mimi September 15, 2013 at 4:15 PM - Reply

      I think just about any dried fruit – even raisins – would work in this salad!

  11. Debra Eliotseats September 15, 2013 at 9:57 AM - Reply

    When I think layered salads, I always think of my grandmother’s: Iceberg lettuce, frozen peas, celery, bacon, lots of mayo and canned Parmesan cheese. :). I love the barley and goat cheese in this and that I bet it is good for leftover lunches. Thank you!

    • chef mimi September 15, 2013 at 4:13 PM - Reply

      Wow. I never heard of that combo! This salad does make great leftovers…

  12. Our Growing Paynes September 15, 2013 at 2:38 PM - Reply

    Great presentation!

  13. chefmo73 September 15, 2013 at 8:50 PM - Reply

    It’s beautifully crafted.

  14. mmmarzipan October 8, 2013 at 4:16 PM - Reply

    Looks and sounds amazing, Mimi! You’re a star!

  15. marymtf November 1, 2013 at 6:29 PM - Reply

    I’m with mmmarzipan – you are a star. I’m posting this fantastic salad to my daughter in law and suggesting that she make it for me. :)

    • chef mimi November 2, 2013 at 10:45 AM - Reply

      hahaha! This is a perfect time of year for it!

  16. Jenny Ta March 29, 2019 at 6:55 AM - Reply

    Woa, very healthy!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:04 AM - Reply

      It really is! When it takes forever to chew through a salad, you know it’s healthy!

      • Jenny Ta April 5, 2019 at 11:26 PM

        I see them delicious. I wish I could eat such dishes

  17. Jodi March 29, 2019 at 7:23 AM - Reply

    OHHH Mimi! Yes Yes Yes! I want this now! Will definitely save to make!

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 7:41 AM - Reply

      It is just a wonderful mix of flavors and textures!

  18. Linda Duffin March 29, 2019 at 8:14 AM - Reply

    Delicious, Mimi. Do you save the rest of the cabbage for another dish?

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 3:49 PM - Reply

      I slice it up and use it in my salads. I don’t cook it much because my husband doesn’t think he likes cabbage. I really loved braised purple cabbage at the holidays.

      • Linda Duffin March 29, 2019 at 4:23 PM

        I love the stuff. Happily, my husband loves it. Result.

  19. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso March 29, 2019 at 12:51 PM - Reply

    Love the use of barley as the base for the salad. Great flavors and colors. :)

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 3:48 PM - Reply

      Thanks! It’s really a fabulous combination of flavors and textures!

  20. Mary March 29, 2019 at 2:35 PM - Reply

    This is a good looking salad which is just what I like to eat – minus the cabbage. I know, it’s healthy, but not for me. I’d have to sub something else for the cabbage. But all the rest of the salad ingredients are lovely.
    And, please tell, I would love to know what you saved the other half of the cabbage for? :)

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 3:48 PM - Reply

      Thank you. Cabbage is harsh for some people, I understand. I slice it and use in salads. I’d cook with it more but my husband thinks he doesn’t like it!

  21. Italian Goodness March 29, 2019 at 2:59 PM - Reply

    Sounds delicious and looks super fancy!!!

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 3:47 PM - Reply

      Thank you! Not really fancy, but very very good!~

      • Italian Goodness March 29, 2019 at 3:48 PM

        To me it does look fancy the way you arranged it! I love it!

      • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 4:16 PM

        I see! I love layered and composed salads!

      • Italian Goodness March 29, 2019 at 4:57 PM

        So do I. They remind me of those yummy trifles, only healthier ☺️

      • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 5:28 PM


  22. March 29, 2019 at 3:14 PM - Reply

    Barley in a salad? Well why not! That’s new to me, but I’d quite happily try it. Although I think I can only get Barley flakes at my local health food store. So might have to opt for lentils instead as you suggest. I take it red lentils would OK?

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 3:47 PM - Reply

      Red lentils are too soft, which is why they’re good in soup, like you just made. Le Puy lentils hold their shape well. But what about wheat berries or oat groats? Some kind of cooked whole grain? Even pearled barley, although I prefer hulled.

  23. the Painted Apron March 29, 2019 at 4:44 PM - Reply

    I’ve never had barley in a salad, or cherries! 2 new ingredients to try! Your dressing sounds good too…

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 4:55 PM - Reply

      A very traditional dressing, but i really love that all of the different vegetables and barley are “marinated” slightly in the dressing before composing the dressing!

  24. Kim Bultman March 29, 2019 at 5:13 PM - Reply

    Chef Mimi, I’m a sucker for my “favorite” fill-in-the-blank recipes and trust your judgment and sense of taste. Today I printed off your email (w/o photos) before I even headed to your post for “how-to’s'” because it sounded SO good… pretty AND tasty! Will probably make mine with brown rice due to the lack of lentils in my pantry (and gluten allergies) but I’m looking forward to diving into the first forkful this weekend in my clear salad bowl at last, even if it’s just for one. My hubby doesn’t eat salads either! :)

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 5:27 PM - Reply

      Brown rice will be just as good! I just like hulled barley cause it’s so chewy! The good thing is that the leftover salad is really good, and doesn’t get all wilty like a green salad.

      • Kim Bultman March 31, 2019 at 4:32 PM

        Mimi, my mise en place is marinating and my mouth is watering. (BTW, your vinaigrette is addictive… saving the rest for spinach salad.) It was fun and helpful to read through the comments, too. Always something to learn! I’m glad it “keeps” — good to know — more for tomorrow! :)

  25. Ashley March 29, 2019 at 5:56 PM - Reply

    Brilliant! It’s like a veggie parfait!

    • chef mimi March 29, 2019 at 8:11 PM - Reply

      I guess it is!!!

  26. Megala March 30, 2019 at 12:29 AM - Reply

    Wow! Wonderful salad!!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:05 AM - Reply

      Thank you Megala!

  27. Ron March 30, 2019 at 2:45 AM - Reply

    Mimi, When I first saw the image of your salad it took me back to the 60s when layered salads seemed to be the rage. I remember my mother making one simalar to the one described above in your comments.
    We love barley but can’t get pearl barely here, only crushed. Wheat berries are no problem so that’s the way I’ll go. Thanks for sharing a great retro dish.

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 11:15 AM - Reply

      Or even brown rice. I had no idea about layered salads in the 60’s! That’s really funny.

  28. StefanGourmet March 30, 2019 at 9:22 AM - Reply

    This looks great, and I’m sure it tastes great, too.

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 11:14 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Stefan. I love all of the flavors together. It’s really good with grilled chicken too!

  29. Marie March 30, 2019 at 12:51 PM - Reply

    Wow! What a tasty salad. Full of delicious flavours and textures that’s looks so filling. Love that you make a homemade vinaigrette too.

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 1:38 PM - Reply

      I really like that all of the parts are marinated in the dressing first, so none of the vegetables are dry.

  30. Elaine @ foodbod March 30, 2019 at 1:10 PM - Reply

    Love the layers!!!

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 1:37 PM - Reply

      It makes it much prettier!

  31. David March 30, 2019 at 2:38 PM - Reply

    Mimi – this salad is so beautiful and I am so impressed. I serve a salad after almost every meal but either serve butter lettuce with avocado and a simple vinaigrette of arugula with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I am so boring!

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 5:02 PM - Reply

      Well, this salad is a meal, so it’s obviously more involved. I love butter lettuce!

  32. March 30, 2019 at 4:59 PM - Reply

    I love layered salads because I can choose the different layers. Interesting – you first posted this in 2013 and now you are updating – I need to do that with so many recipes!

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 5:01 PM - Reply

      It was mostly because of the photos! They were so terrible. And I had a hard time making this one look good!

  33. cookingontheweekends March 30, 2019 at 8:03 PM - Reply

    I really like the idea of presenting a salad this way. It’s so pretty and fun! Love that you mix that luscious vinaigrette into each component before layering it. And now I’m hungry for it. :-)

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 9:30 PM - Reply

      That’s the part I love the best. Gordon Ramsay taught me that every component of a recipe should be seasoned, and in a way, that’s what’s happening in this recipe, with the various vegetables marinated in dressing first.

  34. Debra March 30, 2019 at 9:13 PM - Reply

    This is heaven, Mimi! I love salads and this could easily become my favorite, too! The dried cherries are a very nice change from the dried cranberries I frequently use. Just a slight difference, but I’m looking forward to giving this a try. It’s a sure winner. :-)

    • chef mimi March 30, 2019 at 9:29 PM - Reply

      The dried tart cherries are bigger and chewier, which is fun, but I love all dried fruit bits! The salad is fabulous – hope you get a chance to try it!

  35. Linger March 31, 2019 at 7:35 AM - Reply

    Not only does this salad give a gorgeous presentation, is sounds FANTASTIC as well. The layers are so beautiful in the glass salad bowl and would be wonderful served at any brunch. I love dijon mustard in a vinaigrette. It adds such intensity. As always, thanks for sharing!

    • chef mimi March 31, 2019 at 7:38 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome. To me, Dijon mustard is a traditional French thing, but I don’t know if that’s really true or not. I like that it’s part lemon juice and part vinegar. It’s just really good, and adds to the overall flavor of all of the vegetable parts. The additional of feta and dried cherries works so well!

  36. 2pots2cook March 31, 2019 at 10:38 AM - Reply

    This is great idea for my office lunches ! It gives everything I need to cope with the day at my office. Thank you Mimi !

  37. kathryninthekitchen March 31, 2019 at 8:12 PM - Reply

    A very pretty salad Mimi! Your post made me laugh…. I think our husbands are twins…mine eats salad only under duress and I have one almost every day for lunch….

  38. Tandy | Lavender and Lime April 1, 2019 at 2:59 AM - Reply

    Love your presentation. I shall do that the next time I make salads for guests :)

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:06 AM - Reply

      It is definitely worth using a trifle bowl for a pretty layered salad as this one. But I should probably use it more often, since to me most all salads are pretty!

  39. Vinny Grette April 1, 2019 at 9:47 AM - Reply

    I love salads, too, Mimi, and I will try your salad. Two questions – what makes your vinaigrette look so white? And how do you serve your salad without spilling it all over the place? i certainly would, trying to get to the barley (which I love) on the bottom of the bowl :). This one looks like akeeper!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:08 AM - Reply

      When I blended the dressing, it emulsified, which changed the color. When I serve it, there’s definitely some spillage… it isn’t easy to serve for sure, but so worth eating! The barley is in two layers at least. I should probably make sure and duplicate layering all of the ingredients so you don’t have to dig to the bottom!

  40. Laura April 1, 2019 at 1:12 PM - Reply

    A fantastic sounding and beautiful salad, Mimi! Also a new use for my trifle dish! It needs to be used more, too! That dressing has my mouth watering just reading the ingredients, too!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:09 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Laura. It’s a pretty salad for sure, and all of the flavors and textures are perfect for salad lovers!

  41. Eva Taylor April 1, 2019 at 1:54 PM - Reply

    This is definitely my type of salad, it’s absolutely gorgeous too! I love that you present it in the trifle bowl, one can really see all of the delicious components.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:03 AM - Reply

      I loved composed salads of all kinds, but when you have a layered salad, a trifle bowl is a must! I need to get one of a bigger size, come to think of it…

  42. sippitysup April 1, 2019 at 3:51 PM - Reply

    Food Rule #3: Salads don’t have to be lettuce.

    I almost forgot that rule.

    Thanks for the delicious reminder! GREG

  43. Ros April 2, 2019 at 9:08 AM - Reply

    Delicious salad!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:02 AM - Reply

      Thank you!

  44. Karen (Back Road Journal) April 2, 2019 at 1:07 PM - Reply

    I could eat salad everyday of my life and not get tired of it as there are so many different ones. I do have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever had barley in a salad and this sounds so very different. Add in all the other ingredients and it sounds like a real winner.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:02 AM - Reply

      It adds bulk, but I love barley for the chewy factor – especially hulled barley. It’s definitely a winner.

  45. Denise Browning April 2, 2019 at 2:53 PM - Reply

    Wow, Mimi! This is such a great salad for entertaining and potlucks.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:01 AM - Reply

      Definitely! I had a few people wince at the salad upon first glance, but then they fall in love with it. It’s the barley part. Such a good grain for salads!

  46. sallybr April 3, 2019 at 8:29 AM - Reply

    I almost shed a tear…. I would LOVE to have a huge helping, but…. braces (sigh, sigh, sigh)

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:01 AM - Reply

      Oh right. For how much longer?

  47. kitchenriffs April 3, 2019 at 9:52 AM - Reply

    This looks like spring! We eat salad all the time, but at this time of the year main course salads are something we have several times a week. So your timing is perfect for us. And the recipe? SImply perfect. :-) Thanks!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 7:00 AM - Reply

      Thanks, John. I love salads as meals. Well, that’s what I have most every day for lunch. But I’ve also served a salad bar with various proteins for the top like grilled meats, avocado, shrimp, and so forth to company. It’s really fun to customize salads to your own liking. But otherwise it’s just me and my own salad. Hubby doesn’t like salad.

  48. Kelly | Foodtasia April 4, 2019 at 1:17 AM - Reply

    Such a lovely salad. Such a great idea to dress each layer individually. I love barley and the feta and cherries must make it so flavorful!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 6:57 AM - Reply

      Everything in this salad is just perfect together. The feta and cherries are the icing on the cake, so to speak!

  49. David @ Spiced April 4, 2019 at 6:54 AM - Reply

    I am totally intrigued by this salad, Mimi! I love a good layered salad. After all, we eat with our eyes before we actually eat, and this one looks impressive! The feta + dried cherries combo sounds like a really yummy addition to salad. Great for spring! And I also love how easy this salad is to make. Pass me a serving spoon, please!

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 6:56 AM - Reply

      It’s so easy, just takes a little prep work, but so worth it. I love all of the chewing necessary to make it through this salad!

  50. Healthy World Cuisine April 4, 2019 at 12:27 PM - Reply

    All the textures, layers and colors make for a deliciously fun salad. The longer you leave it sit the more delicious it is which makes it the perfect salad for entertaining so you can make in advance.

    • chef mimi April 5, 2019 at 6:56 AM - Reply

      Probably not more than one day, but so far it’s never wilted like a lettuce salad would. It’s really fun!

  51. Deeksha Pathak April 6, 2019 at 8:38 PM - Reply

    Mimi, I loved your choice of ingredients in salad and more than that I loved the way you have presented it..generally salads are in plates .. You gave us a unique idea.. Thank you

    • chef mimi April 6, 2019 at 9:57 PM - Reply

      Thank you. It’s just too pretty to serve on a plate!

  52. Emma April 10, 2019 at 1:49 PM - Reply

    Wow now this is a salad! What beautiful colours and textures.

    • chef mimi April 10, 2019 at 3:20 PM - Reply

      Thank you! That’s exactly right – it’s beautiful food!

  53. Yeah, Another Blogger April 10, 2019 at 9:32 PM - Reply

    Looks absolutely delicious. I wouldn’t mind a serving right now!

    Neil S.

    • chef mimi April 11, 2019 at 6:13 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Neil!

  54. emmabarrett1508 April 21, 2019 at 3:54 AM - Reply

    Wow!. Look at all the beautiful colours. cc

    • chef mimi April 21, 2019 at 6:58 AM - Reply

      Colorful food is so fun. I love all of the textures in this salad also.

  55. megha April 27, 2019 at 7:19 AM - Reply

    wow very nice and very color full recipe thank you for shearing keep it up.

    • chef mimi April 27, 2019 at 10:24 AM - Reply

      Thanks so much!

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