I’ve always loved all types of cooked grains, but pearl barley has remained my favorite since childhood. It may be because it’s slightly nutty and earthy in flavour, or because it has a lovely sticky consistency that goes oh so well with goulash, mushroom sauce or even as a breakfast cereal.
Studies have shown that barley helps lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels in the body long after the meal. It is also high in protein, fibre, essential vitamins and minerals, thus having barley for breakfast as you would oats or cereal with milk, is actually a very nutritious choice.
It also makes a good rice substitute in saucy Western dishes, with roasts or even in a risotto! Unfortunately though barley contains gluten, which makes it unsuitable for those with a gluten intolerance. The easiest way to enjoy pearl barley, and the most common, is in vegetable soup (see recipe below), but it is also a great porridge alternative.
Simple cooked barley
- 1/2 cup pearl barley (makes 1 cup cooked)
- 1 cup water
- Pinch of salt
- Place barley in a saucepan. Add water and salt. Bring to the boil. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes.
- Serve with hot milk and a spoonful of honey as a breakfast cereal or instead of rice or pasta with saucy meats.
Pearl barley and vegetable soup
Hearty vegetables, nutritious barley and sweet broth make this soup the perfect, but light and nutritious winter warmer.
- 4 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 2 cups water
- 1 carrot, cubed
- 1 parsnip, cubed
- 2 celery sticks, cubed
- 2 waxy potatoes, cubed
- 2 sprigs of parsley, whole
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley or dill, to serve
- (4 chicken thighs, cut in half – try to use organic or at least free range)
- Place stock and barley into a large stock pot. Bring to the boil and reduce heat. (Add chicken.) Simmer for 15 minutes then add water, all vegetables, parsley and bay leaf. Bring to the boil again. Simmer for about 20 minutes. (Shred chicken with tongs). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or dill just before serving.
- Serve with a crusty bread roll.