Need new ideas for your weekly rotation of home-cooked dishes? Bring on the barley. This ancient grain has a delicious nutty flavour and a satisfyingly chewy texture. It’s as versatile as brown rice and it’s always one of the best healthy buys at the grocery store.
Good to know: Barley is a great Canadian crop that’s grown across the country, mostly in the western provinces. It comes in a variety of forms, from kernels and grits to flakes and even flour, all of which are fibre-rich.
3 ways to enjoy barley
1. You can substitute barley into many rice dishes, such as casseroles, power bowls, pilafs, salads and stuffed peppers. Barley also works well in soups and stews, and you can even make barley risotto and porridge.
TIP: You can make barley in a rice cooker or Instant pot. Cook it the same way you would brown rice. Rinse well with cold water before cooking.
TRY: Perfect for spring, try this Asparagus, Chicken, and Mushroom Barley “Risotto.” It’s a satisfying dish that’s easy to make.
2. For a high-fibre, low-starch alternative to all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, try barley flour. You can use it in muffins, pancakes, quick breads, scones, cookies, fruit crisps and more. You can replace up to 100% of the wheat flour with barley flour—the proportion will vary by recipe, with pancakes and quick breads giving the best results. Barley flour is lower in gluten than wheat flour so a blend of 50 percent barley flour and 50 percent wheat flour works better for breads.
TIP: At the grocery store, look for regular barley alongside the dried peas, beans and lentils. If your grocer doesn’t carry barley flour, visit a bulk-food store.
TRY: Fibre-rich Blueberry Barley Muffins are great for breakfast and snacks. Use fresh local berries when they’re in season, or bake with frozen Canadian blueberries year-round. Freeze extra muffins for up to three months.
3. Enjoy cooked barley at breakfast. Serve with a dollop of protein-rich Canadian Greek yogurt or creamy ricotta cheese and fresh seasonal or dried fruit.
TIP: Make extra barley and freeze it in an airtight container. It will keep for up to three months.
TRY: Slow Cooked Barley Breakfast with your favourite toppings, such as fruit, nuts, maple syrup or cinnamon.
Looking for more ideas? This collection of recipes, from smoothies to baked goods, soups and salads, shows just how versatile barley can be.