Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please welcome Hank Shaw, who made this Moroccan-inspired chickpea salad for us the other day. It was outstanding! ~Elise

I’ve always been a huge fan of North African food, and Moroccan food in particular. Moroccan culture is an old culture, and the spice combinations and juxtaposition of sweet and savory are not much changed from a thousand years ago, when these flavors dominated both Europe and the Arab world.

Everything in this salad could have come from Morocco, and the barley is something of a Berber touch: Barley is a mainstay of Berber cooking.

I have no idea whether anything like this salad exists in Morocco, so let’s say it is Moroccan-inspired rather than an attempt at anything authentic.

Most of the ingredients for this dish are easily obtainable, with the exception of the ras el hanout. Frankly, the salad is great without it, but the addition of this beguiling spice mixture does add another layer of flavor.

What is ras el hanout? It is the masala of Morocco. Every person who makes ras el hanout makes it differently. Generally speaking it should include black pepper, cardamom, chile peppers, nutmeg, mace, allspice, ginger, fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric— well as more unusual stuff, such as lavender or dried rose petals.

I include a rough approximation of ras el hanout in the ingredients, should you be unable to find it in a store.

You can vary a few things in this salad and still have it come out well: Substitute pine nuts for the pistachios, or chopped dates for the chopped apricots.

You could even switch out the barley altogether and use something like spelt or farro. But definitely try this recipe as written first: You’ve probably never tasted anything like it.

Moroccan Chickpea Barley Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


  • 1 1/2 cups barley
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and strained
  • 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup diced dried apricots
  • 2-3 chopped green onions or scallions
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp of ras el hanout spice mix*
  • Salt to taste

*Ras El Hanout Spice Mix:

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric


1 Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add the barley and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth, water, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer until the barley is tender, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how old the barley is.

2 Strain the cooked barley through a colander or sieve and run cold water over to cool it quickly. Toss and mix in the colander to strain as much water as you can.

3 Lay out the barley on a sheet pan and drizzle olive oil over it. Mix to coat well and set aside.

4 In a large bowl, add the chickpeas, pistachios, apricots, green onions and parsley and mix well. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and mix again. Add the barley and mix. Sprinkle the ras el hanout spice mixture over the barley and mix well. Taste, and add salt if needed.

5 Let the salad marinate for an hour or so before serving. If the barley has absorbed all the olive oil, drizzle a little more on right before serving.

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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

Showing 4 of 24 Comments

  • Holly

    Just made this and I absolutely love it. I’m thinking one could add cooked chicken if you wanted full meal. The spices would work well with that addition. But it is great just as it is as well! Thanks again for a great recipe.

  • Patricia

    Fantastic salad. Freezes well, which is great for me because I am usually cooking for one. This is my favorite food site. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Jo

    Just wondering, what kind of parsley needs to be used here? Regular curly leaf or Italian flat leaf? Does it matter? I’m on a salad kick lately, have been stalking multiple food blogs, including all the salad listings on this one.

  • Meg

    This is so delicious! I will be making this again and again. The ingredients complement each other so well. The Ras el hanout spice blend adds a touch of heat and an excellent flavor combination. It was especially nice because I didn’t have any ground cardamom and had to grind the cardamom seeds fresh out of the pods. The aroma and the taste were amazing!

  • Sara

    Second time I’ve made this in two weeks. Wonderful! We recently went to a plant-based diet and this is a very nice dish.

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