Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad – Christmas Side Dish!

Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad - Christmas Side Dish

Just a quick little post from me today with a last minute Christmas side dish that I’ve been obsessed with for the last couple of weeks. I’ve already made this colourful Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad twice and it’s not even Christmas yet! 

I can’t lie, the main reason I love this dish is because it looks so pretty and colourful. I eat salads almost every day, and they aren’t always the most exciting to look at. When I am entertaining friends and family, I really try to make salads and side dishes that have a lot of interesting colour and texture. This has even converted some friends to eating ingredients they thought they didn’t like, because they were used in a new, interesting way.

I think it would be the perfect side dish for any Christmas feast – and look great on the table too! This salad looks so pretty and festive with pomegranate, radish and plenty of fresh herbs on top. I served this alongside roast lamb, but it would also work well with ham, pork or turkey.

It is also a vegan recipe, so you could even serve it with a whole roasted cauliflower or a stuffed roasted pumpkin if you are making a plant based holiday lunch this year.  

Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad - Christmas Side Dish

Pearl Barley is part of the ‘ancient grains’ family, but for some reason it wasn’t really on my radar until recently. We had a packet in the pantry for ages but I had never thought to cook with it. I was flicking through an old magazine and saw a salad that inspired this one. Pearl Barley is a fantastic, affordable grain that you can use in dishes like soup, porridge, risotto and of course, salads. It is high in fibre, B-vitamins, iron, zinc and can also be a source of protein.

And now there is no turning back. I can definitely see myself making variations of this all year round – with charred corn and tomatoes in the summer and with roasted pumpkin and crumbled fetta in the winter.

I love the slightly chewy texture of the pearl barley against the crunchy fresh fennel, pomegranate and roasted almonds. The dressing is perfectly balanced with mustard, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.

I also just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy the holiday with good food, family and friends. I will see you next week with a roundup of my favourite posts of the year. And of course, there will be many more delicious recipes in 2019!

Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad - Christmas Side Dish

Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad

This is a delicious, colourful and healthy salad that would be the perfect Christmas side dish for any kind of roasted meat or seafood. It’s also vegan so everyone can enjoy it!

Course Salad, Side Dish
Keyword Christmas, Healthy Recipes, Salad, Simple Dinners
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 people


  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
  • 1 small fennel (or half larger one)
  • 4-5 radishes
  • 3 small spring onions, sliced
  • 1 small pomegranate, arils removed
  • Fresh mint and parsley, roughly chopped
  • 100 g roasted almonds

Mustard dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Place pearl barley into a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the barley is tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or jug and season to taste.
  3. Slice the fennel and radishes as finely as possible with a knife or mandolin.
  4. To assemble the salad, add the sliced fennel and radishes, spring onions, pomegranate, almonds and herbs to the cooled pearl barley. Toss to combine, add the dressing and toss again. Transfer to a serving dish or platter.

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