Lamb with Pearl Barley and Lemon-Mint Dressing

This recipe for Lamb with Pearl Barley and Lemon-Mint Dressing may seem a little familiar if you’ve followed Scott’s Food Rocks for a while.

The first version of it was posted in early 2019, but I later removed it as I wasn’t quite happy with the recipe. I have to admit that I did post a few recipes back then that were ok, but not great. I was in the middle of a creative period that seemed to favour quantity over quality. Like many things, a good recipe needs a bit of time to mature before being shared.

Indeed, with that in mind when I relaunched the site in Summer 2019 I removed over 70 recipes that I’d posted the previous few months. I posted them in a bit of a rush and with hindsight felt they needed more work. If you’d have tried making them they would have probably been fine, but not as good as they could have been. This lamb is a perfect example and after a few tweaks it’s now back. And, even though I say so myself, it’s absolutely delicious.

I like lamb, but don’t often buy it as you don’t get all that much for your money. It’s quite an expensive meat (as it should be when farmed properly) and I feel I get better value elsewhere. That being said, I do love the flavour and when I have the right recipe for it I’m willing to spend a bit more to buy some. Though, as I think I’ve said before Michael isn’t quite so much of a fan… Therefore I need to choose my moments, and my recipes, carefully.

In this case I decided that I wanted to pair the lamb with something other than the normal potatoes, rice or pasta. I’ve done something similar before with my Griddled Lamb with Quinoa Greek Salad and knew it would work well here. In this case I chose Pearl Barley – purely because I’d seen it used in a different recipe online and haven’t cooked with it for a while. Barley is very much a slow food – it takes at least an hour of simmering to get it to an edible stage. But the wait is worth it, for its chewy texture and almost nutty flavour. It’s a lovely partner for the rich, almost oily of the lamb.

The lamb is marinated in a lightly spiced yogurt mixture whilst the pearl barley cooks. The yogurt helps to tenderise the meat as well as delivering the flavour. As there’s plenty of time whilst the barley is cooking this is also a good time to make the dressing. This contains a tried-and-tested combination of mint and lemon, with a little hint of honey for some sweetness. It might feel a little obvious to pair this with Lamb Chops but if it ain’t broke, and all that.

The end result is, unsurprisingly delicious. The cucumber and tomatoes are warmed through in the pearl barley but remain uncooked, adding a lovely crisp, freshness. The delicately spiced lamb, still pink in the middle, melts in the mouth. The lemon and mint dressing cutting through everything perfectly. What more could you want?

Lamb with Pearl Barley and Lemon-Mint Dressing

Lamb and Mint Sauce is a classic combination. Here those flavours are given a bit of a shake up, with the addition of some fresh lemon and a lightly spiced marinade. Served alongside pearl barley, this makes for a lovely summery supper.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Lamb
Servings: 2
Calories: 730kcal


For the Pearl Barley

  • 80 g Pearl Barley
  • ½ Red Onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 80 g Tomatoes finely chopped
  • 80 g Cucumber finely chopped

For the Lamb Chops

  • 100 g Natural Yogurt
  • ½ tsp Ground Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Ground Coriander
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 300 g Lamb Leg Steaks
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

For the Mint Dressing

  • 100 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon juice and zest
  • 5 g Fresh Mint Leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  • Start by cooking the Pearl Barley according to the pack instructions. In most cases it will take around an hour to get the barley to a pleasantly tender stage. Whilst it’s cooking you can prepare the vegetables and put them to one side.
  • Whilst the barley is cooking, marinate the lamb. Put the yogurt in a bowl, then add the spices. Stir until combined then add in the lamb steaks. Turn until they’re fully coated in the mixture, then cover and put to one side at room temperature for around 45 minutes.
  • You can also make the dressing at this stage. Mix together the olive oil and lemon juice, then add in the lemon zest, chopped mint, honey and seasoning. Whisk until well combined then put to one side.
  • When the barley is cooked, drain well and allow to cool for a few minutes. When cooled, add in half of the tomato and cucumber and mix. Drizzle over 3 tbsp of the dressing and stir to coat the barley.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Remove the lamb from the marinade and scrape off any excess. Discard the remaining marinade, as you won’t need this. Fry the lamb in the pan for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned on the outside and cooked through. This should leave the lamb slightly pink, so increase the time if you like yours more well done.
  • When plating up, start by dividing the pearl barley mixture between two plates. Mix together the remaining tomato and cucumber and spoon over the top of the pearl barley.
  • Thickly slice the lamb, then serve across the top of the pearl barley, drizzled with a little more of the dressing. Serve immediately.


You  probably won’t need all of the dressing for this dish – I only used around half and kept the rest for another day. These proportions allow you to use a whole lemon, but if you would rather scale them then halve all of the quantities and you should have no waste.


Estimated Values per Serving
of which Saturates11g
of which Sugars8g
Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.

Scott Silverthorn

Hi, I’m Scott. I love cooking food and I love eating it - both useful credentials for writing a food blog! I get a lot of joy from sharing my passion with my friends and family, so here's hoping you enjoy it too.

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