Our 10 best barley recipes (2024)

Barley pudding with poached rhubarb and ginger compote

A variation on rice pudding: the plump grains in this comforting dessert are enveloped in sweet cream but offset with a dollop of fiery fruit compote.

Serves 5-6
For the pudding
2 litres water
320g caster sugar
150g pearl barley
1 vanilla pod, split in half
200g double cream, whipped into soft peaks

For the fruit compote
1 litre water
600g sugar
75g fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
4 sticks of rhubarb (around 300g), chopped into 2cm pieces

1 Put the water, 300g of the sugar, the barley and vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once boiling turn to a simmer and cook until the barley is soft (40 minutes–1 hour).

2 Once the barley is cooked, strain well through a sieve discarding the vanilla pod. Leave to cool, then refrigerate.

3 Whip the remaining 20g of sugar into the cream to form soft peaks. Once the barley is cold, fold the whipped cream into the barley to form a pudding consistency. Cover and refrigerate until it’s time to serve.

4 Put water, sugar, ginger and lemon juice in a pan over a medium heat. Once boiling strain off the ginger then return the liquid to a low heat and gently poach the rhubarb until tender. Strain the rhubarb and leave to cool. Keep the cooking syrup.

5 To serve, top a few large spoonfuls of the barley mix with chunks of rhubarb and a drizzle of the syrup.
Matt Dryden, Black’s Club

Black barley and smoked trout salad

Black barley is wonderfully chewy and visually stunning but, if you can’t track it down, use pearl barley instead. This recipe will leave you with plenty of dressing left over, but it keeps well in the fridge to use with other salads.

Serves 4
For the mustard dressing
40g dijon mustard
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
150ml olive oil, plus extra for garnish
200ml rapeseed oil

For the salad
200g black barley
1 tsp salt
2 large avocados, halved, peeled, diced and tossed in a little lemon juice
6 sprigs of dill, finely chopped
6 spring onions, finely chopped
50g mixed leaves (rocket, baby chard, baby spinach etc)
200g smoked trout

1 Begin by making the dressing. Whisk together the mustard, pepper, salt, lemon juice and vinegar. Continue to mix as you add the olive oil all in one go, then trickle in the rapeseed oil in a fine ribbon to form an emulsion.

2 Cook the black barley in unsalted water according to the packet directions. When ready, its texture will be chewy and slightly resistant as you bite into it, but with no crunch or hard core. A minute before it’s done, add the salt to the cooking water. Drain, rinse the barley under cold water, drain again then toss with a splash of olive oil.

3 Toss together all the remaining salad ingredients, except the smoked trout, with 160ml of the dressing. Serve in one large bowl, or divide up into serving dishes, with the slices of trout on top.
Roy Levy and Gail Mejia, Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook (Ebury Press)

Toasted pearl barley with pistachios and raisins

A bed of barley accommodates a medley of nuts, dried fruit, roasted veg and yoghurt – an easily dish that never fails to satisfy.

Our 10 best barley recipes (1)

Serves 4
2 tbsp olive oil
400g pearl barley
2 litres vegetable stock
1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted

1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
Juice and zest of 2 small unwaxed lemons
½ bunch chopped mint and parsley
5 tbsp pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
5 tbsp raisins
A drizzle of good quality olive oil
Salt and black pepper

To serve
1 tsp tahini
100g yoghurt
A pinch of dried mint
Fresh chilli or harissa, to taste
Roasted winter vegetables (pumpkin, jerusalem artichokes, fennel etc)

1 Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy-based pan to toast the barley in 1 tbsp of the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the stock. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the barley is al dente. Add the rest of the ingredients with a drizzle of good quality olive oil. Season to taste.

2 Mix the tahini and mint into the yoghurt. For a little heat, add some fresh chilli or harissa, to taste.

3 Serve the barley with the tahini yoghurt and roasted winter veg of your choice.
Damian Clisby, petershamnurseries.com

Yoghurt and barley soup

Give bite and substance to your soup with a handful of pearl barley. Paired with creamy yoghurt and a wealth of spices, this is a nourishing bowlful.

Serves 4-6
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chilli powder
Zest of 1 lime or 1 dried lime
200g pearl barley
150g red lentils
400g chopped tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
200g greek yoghurt
Salt and black pepper

To finish
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, very thinly sliced
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped

1 Heat the oil in a large high-sided pan over a medium heat. Fry for 3 minutes, or until it starts to soften and take on some colour. Throw in the garlic, ginger, spices and lime. Cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring all the time.

2 Add the barley, red lentils and chopped tomatoes to the pan, stir well, cook for 1-2 minutes then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes, or until the lentils have almost disappeared into the soup and the barley is very tender.

3 Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Heat the oil in a large frying pan until hot and fry the onions for 8-10 minutes or until dark golden and crisp. You might have to do this in batches adding a little more oil as you go. Make sure the onions don’t burn. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.

4 When the soup is cooked, add plenty of seasoning, stir in the yoghurt and allow to heat through – but don’t boil. Squash the dried lime (if using) in the pan to release the juices. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with crisp onions and coriander.
Rosie Reynolds

Barley and lentil loaf

This moist veg-filled loaf is given body by pot barley, which retains the outer husk of the grain. Perfect with a generous serving of cheese or butter: excellent winter picnic food.

Serves 8
100g pot barley
150g red lentils
600ml vegetable stock
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
¼ tsp dried sage
350g oats
2 medium eggs, beaten
Salt and black pepper
Fresh bay leaves or a sprig of rosemary, to decorate

1 Line one large 2lb (22cm x 12cm) loaf tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

2 Place the barley and the lentils in a medium strong pan and cover with the stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring regularly to prevent the mixture sticking on the bottom and cook until the barley is tender and creamy. Add more stock as necessary so that it doesn’t dry out.

3 Meanwhile, put the onion in a pan with the oil and sweat gently until soft. Add the garlic, vegetables and sage. Cook gently and, when until soft, remove from the heat.

4 Once the barley/lentil mixture is cooked, combine with the vegetables. Leave to cool slightly then add the oats and eggs. Season to taste. Transfer the mixture into the lined loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Serve warm or cold.
Ruth Joseph

Pearl barley pilaf

Pearl barley is perfect for replacing rice in sticky dishes such as risotto, paella and pilaf. Here, the barley grains soak up every ounce of flavour from the broth.

Serves 6
350g carrots, cut into large chunks
Light olive oil
3 sprigs of rosemary, picked
2 large red onions, thickly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
A pinch of chilli flakes
50g butter, plus extra for sauteeing
50g olives, pitted
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp honey
150g pearl barley
1 litre water or vegetable stock
100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
3 sprigs of parsley

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Lay a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray and then spread the carrots on top. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and rosemary. Cover with a sheet of foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, then return the tray to the oven for about 15 minutes until the carrots brown slightly .

2 In an ovenproof pan, gently saute the onion, garlic and spices in a knob of butter for 10 minutes until soft.

3 Add the roasted carrots, olives, lemon zest, 50g butter, honey and barley, then season. Stir well to coat the grains and fry for a further 2 minutes, then add the stock or water.

4 Bring to the boil, cover and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the barley is just cooked.

5 Serve hot with a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts over the top, followed with some chopped parsley and a splash of lemon juice.
Tom Hunt, The Natural Cook (Quadrille)

Barley bhel puri

This is a layered delight of spicy, sweet and sour notes, to which barley imparts a distinct nuttiness. Sev – crunchy chickpea flour noodles – is a popular Indian snack and can be purchased online.

Serves 6
150g quick-cook barley, boiled for 20 minutes, drained and cooled
150ml rapeseed oil
1 large boiled potato, peeled, cubed and cooled
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium sized tomato, diced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chaat masala
½ tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp roasted peanuts
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tamarind sauce
125g sev (chickpea flour noodles)
Small bunch of chopped coriander leaves

For the chutney
25g coriander leaves
25g mint leaves
1 green chilli
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin powder
50ml water
A pinch of salt

1 First make the chutney. Blitz all the chutney ingredients in a blender until they are silky and brilliant green.

2 Take the cooked barley and fry for 10 minutes in the rapeseed oil over a high heat, allowing the grains to bob and weave in the pan. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the barley and drain on kitchen paper, allowing it to cool.

3 Combine everything apart from the sev and coriander leaves in a mixing bowl. Divide the bhel into bowls and apply the final flourish: spoon over the chutney, sprinkle the sev on top and flutter with coriander.
Ivor Peters, urbanrajah.com

Lamb shanks with preserved lemon, pearl barley and dill

A comforting one-pot meal that lies somewhere between a risotto and a stew. The freshness of preserved lemon and the aniseed tang of dill bring vibrancy to the full-bodied flavour of the lamb and barley. Serve with buttered kale or cabbage.

Serves 4
4 lamb shanks, excess fat trimmed
100g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
6 slices of preserved lemon, flesh and pith removed, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
150g pearl barley
200ml white wine
Black pepper
800ml chicken or lamb stock
A bunch of dill, washed, picked and chopped

1 Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Coat the lamb shanks all over with the seasoned flour and dust off the excess.

2 Heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a heavy-based casserole, and brown the lamb all over, being careful not to burn the bones. Transfer to a plate.

3 Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and saute the shallots and preserved lemon until the lemon has dissolved and released its aroma and the shallots are soft. Add the celery and carrot and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and red chilli and cook for a minute more. Add the barley and toss it around to coat it in the oil, toasting it for a minute or two.

4 Deglaze with the white wine and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Return the lamb shanks to the casserole, season them again with black pepper and then cover with the stock.

5 Cook for an 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and coming away from the bone, and the barley is soft from having absorbed the moisture.

6 To serve, divide the shanks between your plates and stir the dill through the barley.
Rosie Birkett, alotonherplate.com

Barley ice-cream

The earthy flavour of barley is captured in a sweet, cold scoop, which works perfectly with warm, honeyed grapes.

Our 10 best barley recipes (2)

Serves 4
300g pearl barley
125ml milk
750ml double cream
1 tbsp malt extract
10 egg yolks
175g caster sugar

For the grapes
1 large bunch seedless red grapes
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp runny honey
4 sprigs of thyme
A pinch of salt

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Toast the barley on a tray for five minutes in the oven and set aside.

2 In a heavy-bottomed pan, warm the milk, cream, barley and malt extract over a medium heat to just below boiling point.

3 Whisk the yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale, fluffy and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface of the froth. Pour the hot milk and cream little by little over the fluffy yolks, stirring non-stop.

4 Return the mixture to the pan and simmer gently, stirring constantly to stop the custard turning into scrambled egg.

5 When the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon – I run my finger along the back to see that a line stays – it is ready. Remove from the heat, pour into a container and cover with the clingfilm directly on the surface of the custard so that it doesn’t form a skin. Chill in the fridge for two hours to infuse.

6 Strain the custard through a fine sieve, pounding with a ladle to squeeze out as much of that barley flavour as possible. Discard the gloopy barley and pour the strained custard into an ice-cream machine and churn until frozen. Alternatively, pour the mixture into a shallow tray and freeze for 30 minutes, then take it out and whisk through before returning it to the freezer. Whisk and refreeze three or four times until smooth and set.

7 For the grapes, turn the oven up to 200C/400/gas mark 6. Pull the grapes off their stalks, rinse them under cold running water and pierce them a few times with the tip of a knife. Place the grapes on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and honey, sprinkle the picked thyme leaves and salt over them and give the tray a shake to combine. Pop in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the grapes blister and caramelise. Scoop a ball of the ice-cream and place on the warm grapes to serve.
Florence Knight, One: A Cook and Her Cupboard (Saltyard)

Pearl barley and nettle risotto with feta crumble

The earthy notes of the nettle marry well with barley’s wholegrain crunch in this slow-cooked dish, with the feta crumble adding a sprinkle of sharp creaminess.

Serves 2-4
20ml vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g pearl barley
100ml white wine
4 sprigs of thyme
2.4 litres vegetable stock
200g nettle tops
120g butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of ¼ lemon

For the feta crumble
120g cold butter, cubed
240g plain flour
100g feta

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Now make the crumble topping. Rub together the butter and flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then spread it out on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until nice and golden brown, then remove from the oven. Pour into a mixing bowl and beat with a spoon while crumbling in the feta, then put to one side.

2 Sweat the shallot and garlic in the oil in a medium-size pan for 2 minutes, add the pearl barley and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add the thyme and ¼ of the vegetable stock, then cook until the stock has almost disappeared.

3 Meanwhile, prepare your nettles by taking the leaves off the stalks and cutting them into 4cm ribbons. Continue to add stock to the barley and let it cook out bit by bit until all the stock has disappeared. Stir the nettles and butter into the barley.

4 When done, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. To serve, place in two large bowls. Sprinkle with the crumble and place under a grill for 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crumble is golden.
Martyn Moody, Blueprint Café

Our 10 best barley recipes (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Last Updated:

Views: 6054

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Fr. Dewey Fisher

Birthday: 1993-03-26

Address: 917 Hyun Views, Rogahnmouth, KY 91013-8827

Phone: +5938540192553

Job: Administration Developer

Hobby: Embroidery, Horseback riding, Juggling, Urban exploration, Skiing, Cycling, Handball

Introduction: My name is Fr. Dewey Fisher, I am a powerful, open, faithful, combative, spotless, faithful, fair person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.