Whenever I’m promoting food barley, one of the first questions I get asked is, “how do I incorporate barley into my diet?” With barley’s subtle nutty flavour and great texture, it’s so easy to add into soups, to use in salads and to replace your traditional sides.

To help you get started, here’s my helpful list of 10 ways to “Go Barley!”

1) Rinse your pearl or pot barley off in cold water before cooking. This washes off the residual grain dust from the pearling process.

2) Cook your barley in different stocks for different meals:

  • Use chicken stock to pair with salads or to serve with chicken;
  • Beef stock for beef meals; and
  • Vegetable stock for salads or vegetarian dishes.

3) When cooking pot or pearl barley, make a little extra to use in other dishes.

  • Cook barley in broth for added flavour and save some extra to add interest to other dishes, like a Greek salad.
  • Plain cooked barley can be used in a variety of dishes including desserts, like pudding.

4) Freeze leftover cooked barley for use at another time. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.

5) Use barley anywhere you might use cooked rice (in casseroles, stuffed peppers, salads or even as breakfast).

6) Cook barley in one-half apple juice to one-half water and serve with fresh or dried fruit for breakfast.

7) Cook your barley on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, in a covered casserole dish in the oven or in a slow cooker. Each of these cooking methods has their own advantage.

  • Stovetop: bring your barley to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 50 minutes.
  • Rice cooker: barley will cook in the same amount of time as brown rice—approximately one cycle in the rice cooker.
  • Oven: place your barley and liquid in a covered casserole and cook it in the oven. If you are cooking something else in the oven, this saves time and energy.
  • Slow cooker: cook your barley in a slow cooker for three to four hours on low heat.

8) Try replacing half of your all-purpose flour with barley flour in muffin, quick bread or cookie recipes. You can use up to 100 per cent barley flour in these recipes with excellent results.

9) When having a barbeque, serve barley casserole or barley risotto instead of baked potatoes for a delicious alternative.

10) Try barley couscous for a change of pace. This is usually available in specialty or Mediterranean stores and is great addition to any meal.