Pearl barley salad with fresh fava beans, strawberries and a sweet tahini dressing {vegan}

(cliccate qui per la versione italiana)

This is a very fresh dish with ingredients that you can easily find all spring through early summer. I often like incorporating fruits in salads, especially if it’s super hot outside!

Fava beans, also known by a myriad of other names including broad beans, bell beans, field beans and pigeon beans, are one of the most ancient plants found to be cultivated: they probably originated in the Near East as early as the Neolithic Age, and were later common among the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans.

Did you know? The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (IV-V century BC) forbade his followers to eat, touch or even look at fava beans. Why? We don’t know for sure but the three most likely reasons could be: 1. These beans were considered magical plants, sacred to the death deities and the dead, therefore regarded as a taboo. Anything that belonged to gods or spirits was naturally forbidden to mortals. 2. It was a form of sanitary prevention against favism, an allergic and/or toxic reaction to the ingestion of the fava plant that was and still is quite common to the peoples of the Mediterranean basin. 3. It was simply a life rule that Pythagoras deliberately imposed on his initiates, as a categorical imperative, that all must abide by. Within religious sects, un-explained imperatives were often used as a way to create a tighter sense of community as they offered the privilege to belong to a selective group.

Pythagoras himself died next to a fava bean field when, surrounded by his enemies, he refused to cross the field for safety!

Hoping none of you is allergic to fava beans, happy salad!


by Marta Giaccone

serves 2
prep: 5 min, cook: 25 min, total: 30 min


150 gr pearl barley
½ lt water or vegetable stock
½ cup fava beans, fresh or thawed
1 cup mixed greens, packed
about 10 strawberries, ripe and firm
bunch edible flowers (optional)


2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
pinch salt

 Pearl barley salad with fresh fava beans, strawberries and a sweet tahini dressing


  1. Rinse and drain barley in a strainer, then place in a pot along with water or vegetable stock.
  2. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes. Check to see when it’s fully cooked. Don’t overcook! Drain any remaining liquid. Let cool a little.
  3. Make the dressing by whisking all dressing ingredients with a fork in a small bowl.
  4. Transfer barley to a large bowl and add peeled fava beans, chopped strawberries and mixed greens. Top with the dressing and toss to coat. Enjoy!

Pearl barley salad with fresh fava beans, strawberries and a sweet tahini dressing

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