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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Barley: Oldy but Goody

I wonder how often barley ends up in meals? I see it on occasion listed as an ingredient in different ready-to-eat cereals and granola bars, usually as barley flour. Besides beef-barley soup, I rarely think about using it to cook with. For me, it is still not a common food choice, but I have a couple recipes I use it in. What do you do?

Nutritionally, 1/4 cup dry pearl barley contains around 180 calories, 1g fat, 40g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 5g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, folate, magnesium, and zinc. Barley contain almost no sodium.

Barley is also a whole-grain, whether pearl barley or quick-cooking barley. It is not gluten-free, if you are needing a gluten-free diet.

  • Buy: Look for pearl barley in bags and quick-cooking barley in boxes. Check the date on the package and purchase before the best-buy date. Remember, best-buy is a measure of quality, not safety. The quality should still be good if the date is not too far gone.
  • Price: While brands will vary in price, bags of pearl barley is fairly inexpensive. Because quick-cooking barley has been processed to help speed up the cooking process (and someone else did the work for you), it will be more expensive per ounce or per pound. Decide what fits in your budget and cooking desires.
  • Store: Store barley at room temperature in a cool, dark, and dry area.
  • Prepare: Follow the directions on the package for cooking barley. I tend to cook it like pasta with extra water and drain, but you can also cook it like rice and all the way will be absorbed. Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours of cooking.

  • Eat: Barley is often an addition to soup or stew. I have used it as a side-dishes. Because of its nutty tasty and chewy texture, it is filling and hearty. See the reference list for some recipe ideas.


Barley Parmesan Verde (Serves 4)

For extra flavor, try cooking barley in broth. I serve this often with chicken or pork and side of broccoli and red bell peppers.

1 cup pearl or quick-cooking barley
1 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot, cook barley in water according to package directions, about 20 minutes on quick-cooking barley and 40 minutes on pearl barley. Additional time can be added for pearl barley to increase tenderness. Drain off any excess liquid.
2. Return drained barley to pot. Add salsa verde. Turn heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in parmesan cheese until combined. Serve hot.

Nutrition analysis per serving: 220 calories, 3g fat, 450mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 7g protein