Batches of Barley

October 24, 2013
Please note: fresh fruit and vegetables need to be inspected for insect infestation. Please consult our guide


The forecast is for freezing rain today. Its official, fall is falling (along with the temperature) and I know when I get back home tonight I’m going to want something warm waiting for me. I choose soup, more specifically, mushroom beef and barley soup.

While the soup part is important, the barley is the stuff I’m really looking forward to eating. It’s good and really good for you.

What most people don’t realize is that barley is probably the oldest grain on the planet and as a super healthy good for you food, barley wins for the highest fiber content of all the whole grains. Barleys been on the menu for a long time but it’s not native to the new world; it first arrived in America with good old Chris Columbus. It  was used for food and fodder for stock but didn’t really catch on as a money maker for farmers until the English and Scandinavian settlers decided they wanted to start making beer, ale and lager like they did in the old country.

Barley has a mildly sweet nutty/earthy taste, chewy texture and taste. Pearled barley is the kind you’ll probably find at your neighborhood grocery and is easy to prepare (it’s processed). A great alternative is using whole grain barley. It’s a bit more robust and less processed and has more fiber but it does take a bit longer to prepare.

Before cooking your barley, rinse it thoroughly and then cook it 1 part barley to 3½ cups boiling water or broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the barley, reduce to a simmer and cover and cook about an hour, until done. The barley recipes you’ll find below are all simple to make, delicious and good for you. Not too shabby for an inexpensive staple you can use in salads, soups, stews and breads.

Barley Notes

  • Surprisingly barley has gluten so anyone with celiac disease beware
  • 1 cup raw barley = 3 to 4 cups cooked

Crock Pot Beef Mushroom and Barley Soup (meat)

6 to 8 servings


  • 1½ to 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2/3 to 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 to 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes whole or crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  • 3½ to 4 cups beef broth
  • ½ lb. sliced mushrooms, washed, sliced
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a skillet saute the beef with the onion and garlic.
  2. When browned, drain and then place the mixture in the crock pot. Add the barley, mushrooms, carrots, celery, tomatoes, beef broth, water, and bay leaf.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 6 to 8 hours.
  4. Just before serving remove the bay leaf, add the parsley, mix to combine and then season with salt and pepper.

My files, source unknown

Barley Mushroom Risotto (dairy) 

6 servings


  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups mixed wild mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups pearl barley, rinsed
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 6 cups baby arugula or spinach
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. In a large saucepan combine the broth and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauce pan.
  3. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they begin to release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute more. Reduce heat to medium.
  4. Add ½ cup hot broth to the barley and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding ½ cup hot broth at a time and stirring until the liquid has been absorbed after each addition, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, until the barley is tender and creamy but still somewhat firm, 35 to 45 minutes. (You might not use all the broth.)
  5. Stir in arugula or spinach and cook, stirring, until it is wilted, about 1 minute.
  6. Remove from the heat. Stir in cheese, butter, and vinegar. Season with pepper.

Modified from Eating Well May/June 2007

Fruit and Barley Chicken Salad (meat)

4 servings


  • 2 cups cooked pearl barley (use package directions)
  • 1½ cups cooked and cubed chicken
  • 1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ½ cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup toasted almonds


  1. In a large serving bowl combine the barley, chicken, water chestnuts, celery and onions. Drizzle the salad dressing over barley-chicken mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve sprinkle the berries and almonds over the top, toss gently to coat and serve.

My mom’s recipe files, source unknown

Barley Beans and Avocado Salad (pareve or meat)

4 servings


  • 1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken)
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ cup quick cooking barley
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (19 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced avocado


  1. In a saucepan combine the broth, thyme, salt, and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil add barley, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes (there will still be liquid in the pan).
  2. In a large bowl combine the lemon juice and oil in large bowl. Spoon the barley and any remaining liquid into the bowl with lemon juice. Mix to combine.
  3. Add the beans, avocado and tomatoes. Mix to combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Good at room temperature or cold.

Modified from

White Fish and Barley Stuffed Tomatoes (fish)

Yields 6 stuffed tomatoes


  • 6 large tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup pearl barley
  • 2¼ cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green or yellow bell pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 4 oz. smoked white fish, flaked


  1. Cut tops from tomatoes. Scoop out pulp and then season with salt and pepper. Flip the tomatoes over and let them drain on paper towels for about 30 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan combine the water, ½ teaspoon salt and butter. Bring to a boil, add the barley and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 35 to 45 minutes until the barley is cooked.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. Add the pecans, smoked white fish, bell pepper, and green onions to the cooked barley and mix to combine. Fill the tomatoes with the barley mixture.
  5. Place filled tomatoes close together in baking pan. Add ¼ cup water to pan.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Modified from

© Eileen Goltz barley 13 a

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.