Saturday, October 9, 2021

Southwestern Black Bean Salad with Barley from @MysteryMacRae


This is a nice dish for the transition from summer to autumn. You can use some of the last tomatoes and peppers from the garden, but it also has the nutty, chewy fall flavor of barley. It’s tasty, fairly quick, and the kind of dish that begs for adding your own twists. It was great just like this, but next time I might add garlic and a bit of cumin. The original recipe doesn’t call for avocados, but we had two beauties on the counter, so in they went. We serve this for a main dish but it also makes a great side.


 Southwestern Black Bean Salad with Barley


I took the picture before deciding to add another tomato and scallion


2 ½ cups water

⅔ cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon salt

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and chopped

2 small tomatoes (I threw in a 3rd)

2 cups frozen corn, thawed (I only had 1 cup)

2 scallions, trimmed and sliced, white part only (I added a 3rd)

2 avocados, cubed

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and black pepper

4 ounces shredded pepper Jack cheese (I just shredded and didn’t measure)


Aren't these beautiful avocados?

To make:

In a medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Add barley and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat, cover, and about simmer 30 minutes, until barley is tender. Drain well.


Rinse your barley before cooking

Rinse and drain black beans

In a large bowl, combine barley, beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, corn, scallions, oregano, basil, avocados, lime juice, and shredded cheese. Stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Add corn and seasonings to beans

Add everything else, stir, and serve

Barley is good for you! Here are a couple of other salads that include barley from our Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen archives. Barley, Red Pepper, and Corn Salad from Krista Davis, and Barley and Cuban Black Bean Salad from Linda Wiken.


 I don’t cook with arsenic, but there’s plenty of it in Argyles and Arsenic, book 5 in my Highland Bookshop Mystery series. The book comes out March 1, 2022, and it’s available for pre-order now.


After 93 well-lived years, Violet MacAskill is ready to simplify her life. Her eccentric solution? She’ll throw a decanting and decluttering party at her family home—a Scottish Baronial manor near the seaside town of Inversgail, Scotland. Violet sets aside everything she wants or needs, then she invites her many friends in to sip sherry and help themselves to whatever they want from all that’s left.

Janet Marsh and Christine Robertson, two of the women who own Yon Bonnie Books in Inversgail, enjoy themselves at the party. Not everyone who attends has a good time, though. Wendy Erskine, director of the Inversgail museum, is found dead, and rumors swirl about food poisoning from a local food truck. Then Violet tells Constable Hobbs that a tin of rat poison is missing. And when Hobbs’ own grandmother comes under suspicion for murder, he enlists the women from Yon Bonnie Books, and the race is on to find the murderer.

But where do they begin? Are there clues in the “Shocking Stockings” exhibit at the museum? Will the antique scrapbook pasted full of trivia about arsenic and bygone poisoners offer a solution? Or does the answer lie closer to home—is one of Violet’s friends truly toxic? Poisonous games are afoot in Inversgail and the women of Yon Bonnie Books are playing to win. 


The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes books for Annie’s Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter  or Instagram.




  1. Barley would be something new for me to try & this salad has everything in it that I like so thanks for the recipe. And thank you for giving us the Highland Bookshop mysteries!

  2. Hi Molly! Yum! I love all types of salads, especially ones with avocado. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I haven't cooked any barley since I ran out of it, then I broke my arm around the beginning of April. I love it, so thanks for reminding me to add it to my list, Molly! And yes, it's so versatile. I'm also one of those people who could happily eat an avocado every day!

  4. Barley, beans, and corn? Sounds terrific.
    Oh, and avocado.