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!