It’s Memorial Day.  The last Monday in May is set aside in the U.S. to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the Armed Forces.

But it’s also considered the unofficial start-date for picnics, neighborhood potlucks and backyard barbecues.

We’re taking the day off and because the Food Safety News team is spread out across the country, we’re having our third annual “virtual potluck” for our Memorial Day celebration.

Dan and Helena are bringing the main dishes — slow-cooked barbecue pork sandwiches and Mussels in Wine. James and Cookson are bringing salads — Barley-Is-Boss Salad and Tortellini Pasta Salad. Mary is bringing a side dish — Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce.  Suzanne is contributing her Rhubarb Crumble for dessert.

We’re sharing our recipes here, so you can join in our virtual potluck or use them at your next one.

Have a  food safe Memorial Day celebration!

The Food Safety News team.

Who knew?


It turns out that barley is a nutritional power house. When comparing fiber content, for example, a one-cup serving of barley contains 6 grams of fiber; brown rice, 2 grams; and white rice only 0.6 grams. And barley is slightly higher in some essential nutrients than rice, including potassium, zinc and folate. Both pearl barley and rice (brown and white) contain 2 mg of iron.

But best of all, barley is a wonderful (and delicious) grain to use in meals, whether it be stir-fry dishes, egg scrambles, soups, side dishes, or salads.

Barley-Is-Boss Salad 

2 cups water
1 cup barley
Veggies, herbs and spices

Rule of thumb: Use an equal amount of barley and veggies to make this salad.

Chopped veggies: sweet onions, celery, peppers (red and green), cucumber, tomatoes, thinly sliced carrots, and black olives. For some added crunch, add jicama or water chestnuts.

Variations of this oil-and-vinegar barley salad can be made with curry powder, chopped veggies of your choice, pineapple chunks and fresh small cooked shrimp. Or, chili powder, cumin, veggies of your choice and chopped hot peppers.


Wash and drain one cup of pearl barley. Bring 2 cups of lightly salted water to a boil and add the washed barley. After it’s been in the boiling water for a minute or so, stir with a fork and lower the temperature (to the equivalent of a “3” on an electric stove). Cover the pot and cook the barley for about 50 to 69 minutes. (No cheating . . . DON’T open the lid to see how it’s doing.)

Let it cool to room temperature and put it into the refrigerator for about an hour or longer (overnight is fine) to further cool it.  Like rice, barley is best to use in many dishes when it’s cold.

When cool, put the barley into a large bowl and poke it a bit with a fork to separate any clumps that might be there. If necessary, break apart clumps with your fingers. Add the veggies and stir just enough to mix them in with the barley.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the mixture and then add some garlic powder, crushed sweet basil, chopped parsley, salt and pepper, and just a pinch of brown sugar (to mellow the vinegar that you’ll be adding in the next step). Toss about 30 times until the oil coats the barley and veggies.

Splash on 2 tablespoons of vinegar and toss again. (You put the vinegar on last so it doesn’t splash the spices off the veggies.)

Taste and adjust to your preference.

Put in refrigerator until it’s time to serve. Stir it lightly one more time and give it a taste-test to see if you need to add a bit more vinegar. Sprinkle with paprika for an attractive finishing touch.

(For a smaller salad, just use one-half of the cooked barley. You save the other half for another dish.)