For those of you for whom gluten isn't an issue, barley is a good alternative to pasta in a salad. It's rich and pleasantly chewy, and neutral enough that the flavor of the salad's ingredients really shine through.
The recipe below was based on what was in my refrigerator but it is very flexible. Just about any recipe you use for pasta salad should work, including those with cheese such as feta or goat's milk.
Summer Barley Salad
5 cups cooked pearl barley (from 1 cup raw)
1 cup red pepper, diced (about 1 pepper)
1 1/2 cups fresh, cooked corn kernels (from about 2 ears or use thawed frozen)
1 cup zucchini, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 T mint, finely chopped
Toss the vegetables with the barley. Mix the vinegar, garlic and oil in a bowl and pour over the barley and vegetables. Sprinkle on salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, and the herbs and toss again until everything is combined. Taste for seasoning. Serve room temperature or chilled.
(Images: Dana Velden)