Vegetable Barley Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing

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Yesterday was the first day of the winter bible study session at my church. This time around we’re studying “Finding I Am” by Lysa TerKeurst , an in-depth study of the seven “I am” statements of Jesus. Not to take anything away from any of the other studies we’ve done, because each and every one is special, but I can already tell that this one is going to be a game changer for me. It’s a study that speaks right to my very heart and soul. It’s written almost entirely in my love language. Because Lysa, she seems like she’s my people. She speaks boldly of struggle. Of Pain. And of doubt. She’s open about her imperfections and doesn’t seem to try to paint a picture of her life with anything but the stroke of truth.

This is a “dirt under your fingernails let’s get deep into the nitty gritty of the word” study. In her own words it’s NOT a “kumbaya, let’s get together and just talk about the Bible enough to feel good about ourselves” study. It’s clearly earmarked for imperfect people who are striving, desperate and hungry to learn as much as they can about a very perfect God. 

And man, that is AWE-some

Because imperfection, it’s my jam. I’ve always been drawn to the imperfect of life. The raw. The honest. My favorite people and characters are always the ones that are complex and flawed. I love layers. I love scars and wrinkles and quirks. My favorite characters in books and movies, they’re all people that you love. But you also sort of hate (I’m looking at you, Carrie Mathison). They have some big wins but also huge losses. Because that’s life.  The best stories come from the imperfect.

Even my favorite things, they’re usually just as imperfect as the characters I love. Take my kitchen table. Of all of the pieces in our house, it’s my favorite. When we moved to Texas and our family was about to add one more little body, we were rapidly outgrowing our small California sized table. So we had our cousin, who makes some pretty amazing furniture (check out his work here), build us this table. In his endless good nature he humored me through all of my wild ideas and ridiculous requests and created this amazing HUGE table for our family. When it was done, it was perfect. Honestly, probably just a little bit too perfect for imperfect me. Because at the very last minute right before delivery, I begged him to distress it. And it was near physical pain for this artist to mess up something that he had worked so hard on, but he did (because I’m family and he had to. Also because he’s nice). And I guess in retrospect, I could have held off on that request.

Because in the seven years we’ve had this thing, we’ve managed to distress it more than I ever thought possible. This table, it’s so much more than just a pretty piece of furniture where we have meals. It’s where art happens. It’s where legos happen. It’s where highly competitive games of Uno and Rummy happen. It’s where homework happens. Boo-boos are bandaged and kissed and jokes are shared here. It’s covered in scratches, markers, glitter, paint, pen……

It’s where LIFE happens.

And each and every little mark is a piece of our history. It’s now a legacy. And I wouldn’t trade it for a more perfect kitchen table if you paid me.

Yes, I love the imperfect. Maybe it’s because I’ve got my own scars, wrinkles and flaws myself. And maybe I’m too honest or too tired or too jaded to hide them anymore. But I also know that God, he loves the imperfect too. So I rest and take comfort in that. I know that Jesus came here for the sick, not the healthy (Mark 2:17). And throughout the stories of the Bible God uses the most unlikely characters to do amazing things.

Paul? Murderer. Torturer. All around jerk. Then he meets Jesus.

David? Adulterer. Murderer. Then He turns back to God.

Mary Magdalene? Possessed by seven devils. Then she follows Jesus for His entire ministry.

These are the people I relate to. Not because of their turnaround, but because of what it took to get them there. The more you’ve been forgiven, the more you’re changed, the more astounding your testimony, the more we see God’s grace pulsing through your veins. 

So I can’t wait for this study. I can’t wait to dig deep. I can’t wait to get some dirt under my fingernails. It’s no secret to anyone that I love the Bible or what I believe. But this is why, this imperfection in the throes of the pursuit of God. Because the beauty is in the change. The beauty is that each and every life changed stops being a story about the sins of the sinner and starts to become the story of the amazing grace that changes their lives. vegetable barley click to tweet

And that gives me chills.

So, friends, if you have a chance, pick up this book. Give it a read. If you can find a study to join, I highly recommend it, because nothing is better than learning and growing surrounded by a group of people who are working through their imperfections right alongside you. If you’re local to me and want to join in, it’s not too late! Drop me a line and I’ll help you get connected to Hope Fellowship and our study. 

And in the meantime, make yourself this near perfect lunchtime salad and go ahead and eat it on your not-so-perfect kitchen table.  As much as I hate perfection, I also oddly hate basic, run of the mill salads. Lettuce annoys me. I find it pointless and lacking in taste. So this makes traditional salads something of a struggle for me. In order to get the flavor I want I have to soak that lettuce in so much dressing that they become limp and lifeless, making it a textural nightmare.

But a grain salad, now that I can stand behind. Grain salads typically replace sub-par lettuce with a heartier whole grain, which adds so much more interest to the entire meal. For this salad I chose Pearl Barley for its slightly chewy texture and larger body. This helps it stand up against the larger dice of the vegetables and also hold the dressing without losing its bite. You can customize this any way you like, add whatever vegetables you have on hand and feel free to substitute thyme or basil for the dill if that’s what you’ve got. Grain salads are hearty and can take some experimenting. They also make enough for you to save for a few days worth of lunches. The dressing makes extra and the salad will absorb it as it sits so be sure to taste and add more for leftovers as necessary.


Vegetable Barley Grain Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing

January 18, 2018


  • For the salad:
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bell peppers (any color--I chose red and orange), chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 English Cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado
  • optional:
  • 1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • For the dressing:
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (I used kosher)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Step 1 To cook the barley, bring 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil over high heat. Add rinsed barley and cook for 45 minutes over low heat until grains are tender. Drain and cool slightly.
  • Step 2 Meanwhile, combine remaining salad ingredients minus the avocado in a large bowl.
  • Step 3 Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl, being sure to taste and adjust accordingly.
  • Step 4 Once barley is cooled slightly, add to the bowl of vegetables and add dressing, tossing to coat.
  • Step 5 Top with sliced avocado and serve.
  • Step 6 Will last up to 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. Be sure to taste prior to eating and add more dressing as necessary.


Grain salads are the perfect answer for those who don't love a traditional green salad but want to keep lunch light and healthy. Here pearled barley is paired with rough chopped vegetables and topped with a delicious tangy lemon dill dressing to make a healthy alternative that makes enough for a few lunches. Perfect for make ahead workweek meals, this is sure to be a hit to help you keep up your New Years Health Resolutions.

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