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barley pilaf

barley pilafWeeknight meal planning can be a royal pain but if you’re a busy person, it all makes good economic sense.  My daughter does her meal prep religiously and usually sends me a snapchat of what she’s made. She spends a couple of hours in an evening and that saves her time for the rest of the week.  It’s also a perfect way to stay on a food budget and not be tempted to eat out when you have a meal already to go in the fridge. I’m not as busy as she is but I do like to make use of my time.  If I need to boil a couple of eggs, I add 6 to 8 and then use them throughout the week for a mid morning snack.  When I was making this, I cooked enough barley for 2 more meals.  Barley is a favorite grain I like to use; it’s chewy, pasta-like texture, is a perfect substitute for rice.  On its own, barley is non-nondescript (in my opinion) but toss in sautéed vegetables, a splash of balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and this simple cereal grain becomes a super star.  Barley pilaf makes lovely use of veggies you might have in the refrigerator.

It’s a grain that’s often overlooked but barley’s health benefits are numerous.    I use it in soups, salads, and as a rice substitute for risotto.

barley pilaf
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


It’s a grain that’s often overlooked but barley’s health benefits are numerous. I use it in soups, salads, and as a rice substitute for risotto.
Serves: 2

  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced Brussels sprouts
  • 1 to 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ orange bell pepper, chopped
  • large handful of baby spinach or rocket
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
  • feta cheese, crumbled

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, add 3 cups of water and barley. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for at least 25 minutes (stirring occasionally).
  2. While the barley is cooking, grab a large frying pan and place over medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil and bacon. Cook bacon then remove from pan. Toss in onions and Brussels spouts and cook until soft. Move to one side of the pan and add peppers and garlic. Cook until soft. Stir to combine onions and sprouts and toss in cooked bacon. Then add spinach and allow to wilt.
  3. In a large bowl add cooked barley along with veggies. Add balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
This can be served hot or at room temperature.  The barley is cooked when it feels soft to the touch but is al dente in the center.  If there’s still water left in the pot even though the barley is cooked, just drain it.  Enjoy!

About Heather Chase

The Culinary Chase was coined by my husband whilst in a coffee shop in Hong Kong back in 2006. We wanted something that would be a play on my last name and by the time we finished our coffee, the name was born. As long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed cooking. It wasn’t until we moved to Asia that I began to experiment using herbs and spices in my everyday cooking. Not only do they enhance the flavor of food but also heighten it nutritionally. Over the years, I began to change our diet to include more vegetables, pulses, whole grains and less red meat. Don’t get me wrong, we love our meat, just not in super-size portions (too hard for the body to digest). I always use the palm of my hand as a guide to portion control when eating red meat. If the meat is larger than my hand, I save that portion for another day. Also, if the veggies on your plate look colorful (think the colors of the rainbow) – red, green, yellow, orange etc. then you’re most likely getting the right amount of nutrients per meal. I post recipes that I think help maintain a healthy body. I use the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time I make a conscious effort to eat healthy and 20% for when I want french fries with gravy (poutine). Balance is the key and to enjoy life with whatever comes my way. Thanks for visiting!


The views and opinions expressed in this content are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of haligonia.ca.


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