Barley is a yummy and affordable high-fibre grain with a great texture. It has been cultivated for thousands of years and is Canada’s third largest crop. Barley was pictured on early currency in ancient Egypt and was eaten for endurance and strength by gladiators in ancient Rome.
We tend to think of it as an ingredient in soups and stews but it is also great in salad, casseroles and as a side dish. There are different types of barley you can buy at the store. The most common are pot and pearl barley. Pearl barley has been polished so the bran layer has been removed. For this reason, pot barley is considered a whole grain and pearl barley is not. Pot barley offers us a little more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. All types are good choices because the soluble fibre in barley is in the entire grain. Pot barley and pearl barley can be used interchangeably in recipes as they take about the same amount of time to cook. Barley can be cooked in a rice cooker just like brown rice, or on the stove by bringing barley and water to a boil then cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Check it often and stop cooking when it has reached your preferred level of chewiness. Extra can be frozen then added to soups or salads later.
Here are some things to do with barley:
- Try using barley instead of rice to increase variety.
- Enjoy it as a hot cereal
- Bake with it by replacing about ½ wheat flour with barley flour in recipes
- Eat it as a side dish! It’s great with slivered almonds and dried apricots; lemon, parmesan and sautéed greens, or parsley and mushrooms. Here is one of my fav’s Spanish Barley | GoBarley
Chantal Morais RD, MPH