If you’ve never tried barley or you didn’t like it at first, here’s how to enjoy this delicious and hearty grain.
Barley is one of the most underrated foods. Many people shy away from this grain because they’re not sure how to cook it, but barley’s chewy texture, subtle nutty flavour and strong nutrition profile make it worth the effort.
What makes barley a healthy choice? Barley has the highest fibre content and lowest glycemic index of the cereal grains. Barley is an excellent source of the cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre beta-glucan. In fact, a 1/2 cup (125 mL) of cooked pearl barley provides an impressive 60 percent of the heart-healthy fibre shown to help lower cholesterol*. It’s also a great grain for batch cooking and freezing—making it a helpful time-saver.
Here’s how to add barley to your weekly meal plan.
1. Cook barley like brown rice.
If you’ve tried to cook barley before and it turned out tough or mushy, give it another go. Here’s an easy method I often use: make barley in a rice cooker or Instant pot the same way you would make brown rice.
If you cook it on the stove, bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer. Start checking on the barley at the 30-minute mark, and stop cooking when the grains have doubled in size and the texture is to your liking.
For both methods, rinse the barley well with cold water first.
2. Use barley instead of rice.
Barley is more versatile than you might think. If you’ve bought barley but don’t know what to do with it, start with your favourite rice dishes—barley works well in everything from casseroles and pilafs to soups, stews, chili, salads. I often substitute it for rice in stuffed peppers or cook it up in one pot with sliced mushrooms and lentils for a tasty side dish.
3. Try other barley options.
In addition to the pearl and pot barley, you’re likely familiar with, you can cook with barley flour, flakes and grits. Barley flour, for example, makes delicious muffins, pancakes, quick breads, cobblers, cookies and other baked goods.
If your grocer doesn’t carry different barley products, visit a bulk-food store.
So, what do you say? Find out how easy it is to add barley to everyday dishes with these delicious recipes.