Photo: John Autry; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine
6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)

Toasting the barley before it boils brings out nutty flavor. Pressing and draining tofu helps it take on flavors more readily and improves its cooked texture.

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare tofu, place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Top with a cutting board; place a heavy skillet on top of cutting board. Let stand 45 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Cut each tofu slice into 10 cubes; arrange in a single layer in a shallow dish.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 375°.

Step 3

Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl. Pour sugar mixture over tofu in dish, and turn to coat. Let stand for 25 minutes. Arrange tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Step 4

To prepare salad, heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add barley to pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add 5 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Drain; cool completely. Place barley in a large bowl.

Step 5

Cook green beans in boiling water for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge green beans into ice water. Drain well; pat dry. Add beans to barley.

Step 6

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush tops of mushrooms with 2 teaspoons oil. Add mushrooms to pan, oiled side down. Cook 5 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cool slightly; slice mushrooms thinly. Add tofu, mushrooms, and green onions to barley mixture.

Step 7

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, agave nectar or honey, grated ginger, and minced garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over barley mixture in bowl; stir well to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Ratings & Reviews

michrenbro's Review

July 06, 2014
I agree that this recipe was very time consuming and the outcome was not what I expected. The flavor of the mushrooms, sesame oil, tofu, etc was overwhelming. I tried it both cold and hot and could not finish it. After all that work and shopping at 2 stores to find all ingredients I ended up throwing most of it out.

Debmatz's Review

June 18, 2014
I really enjoyed this recipe (so did my husband). I agree that it sounded like a lot of pots and pans and time. I think I simplified it by searing the tofu on the stove top (didn't think it was worth it to start the oven just for that). I removed the tofu from pan and then used that same one to saute the mushrooms. I used regular button mushrooms because i don't like shiitake. I also boiled the green beans in the same pot as the barley (after i dumped the barley). Reduced salt to total of 1/2 tsp, and i think I will reduce further to 1/4 tsp for next time. Will make again! Nice cold main dish for these hot summer days :)

gumdropgirl's Review

September 23, 2013
This was an extremely time-consuming recipe. Mind you, it's good , but for the time, energy, and number of pans used, not to mention bowls-I won't make it again. Too many other great recipes to try.

Slurpee711's Review

October 09, 2010
Prepared this a day ahead as a side dish without the tofu. It was delicious. I cut the amount of green onions based on the reviews, and also used a combo of shiitake and crimini mushrooms. Will definitely make again.

afoodcook's Review

October 06, 2010
Before I made the recipe I didn't realize how much lead time I needed. We liked the recipe but thought it was a lot of work.

Akjules's Review

September 12, 2010
My husband didn't think a salad could be a meal, but he loved it. Kids (8 &5) loved it also. Added imitation crab to create more protein, and spinach and tomatos to make it more of a salad. Delicious!

MaryW1951's Review

September 08, 2010
Since this recipe made much more than two of us could enjoy, I invited neighbors, forgetting he does not like tofu. However, EVERYONE loved the salad! Although a bit time consuming to make, I will make it again.The flavors and textures were delicious combinations.I followed the recipe with no changes and served it with heirloom tomatoes and corn on the cob - a wonderful late summer meal. I allowed about two hours for the recipe which was just right.

meganhalv's Review

August 25, 2010
This recipe tasted delicious! It was a lot of work, but worth the effort.

Veggiecook11's Review

August 16, 2010
The salad was delicious, but it had too many green onions, and I generally like green onions. It was way better the next day, and next time I'll make it a day in advance. Would be great for a potluck as it could be a side dish, but is filling enough to be an entree.