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Barley recipes

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A collection of barley recipes. Pearled barley is a healthy high-fiber and cholesterol-free ingredient that should have a regular place in your kitchen. Scroll through these barley recipes to get ideas for how to use and how to cook barley.

Got a favorite barley recipe and want to share it? Post it in the forum or email it to me and I'll be happy to share it.

1. Barley ricotta risotto recipe

The chewey texture of barley lends itself well to a meatless risotto, and, in fact, barley risottos are increasingly popping up on the menus of gourmet restaurants everywhere. This creamy risotto recipe is made stove-top, just like a rice risotto, with lots of mushrooms for flavor, a bit of spinach for color and a generous dollop of ricotta cheese for extra creaminess. Delicious! Like trying whole grain risottos? You might also want to try this freekeh risotto with asparagus.

2. Barley salad with veggies in vinaigrette

Toss in a handful of cooked barley to your usual green salad to give it a bit of a punch and make it more filling, or, try a barley salad that is complete in and o itself, such as this simple barley pilaf salad. It combines a few healthy veggies with barley and wild rice, then tosses it all together in an Asian-inspired orange sesame vinaigrette topped with fresh snipped cilantro. If all that sounds too complicated, just use it as a starting pint and adapt it to your liking. Try taking cooked barley, adding a few steamed or fresh veggies, then topping it off with a store-bought vinaigrette, for example.

3. Barley tomato soup recipe

Most vegetarian barley soup recipes pair barley with plenty of mushrooms to carry the flavor, but this barley recipe uses tomatoes and plenty of traditional soup ingredients, such as carrots, celery, onions and garlic instead. It's a bit simple, but the folks I've served this recipe to eat it right up. If you're looking for a gourmet vegetarian soup recipe, this isn't it, but, if you're looking for a filling, high-fiber and tasty tomato soup, vegetable soup or barley soup, this one combines all three.

4. Barley baked beans

Who doesn't love homemade baked beans? Add some extra texture and fiber and stretch your usual recipe by adding barley! You could also make these saucy beans in a slow cooker set on medium for about six hours. Stick it in a thermos and take it to work for a healthy whole grain and heart-healthy lunch, use the leftovers on a bun like sloppy joes for the kids, or, if you're not vegan, add a bit of extra flavor by topping it off with some shredded cheese.

5. Barley and mushroom pilaf

Just like rice and most other whole grains, barley makes an excellent pilaf served warm. There's not much difference between a whole-grain pilaf and a whole grain salad, so enjoy the leftovers the next day served cold. In this recipe, the earthy and nuttiness of the barley is a perfect pair for mushrooms and rosemary. You can top it with Parmesan cheese, but as one recipe reviewer noted, "it's sooo big on flavor!" just as it is. Enjoy!

6. Thai vegetable stir-fry with barley

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Eggplant, bell peppers, onions and basil are stir-fried in flavorful Thai stir-fry sauce along with healthy barley. That's a lot of flavor packed into one dish! Is there anything barley can't do? 

7. Barley stuffed tomatoes

This healthy barley recipe really shows off the versatility of whole grain barley by stuffing it inside roasted beefsteak tomatoes. A mixture of cooked barley, green bell peppers, green onion and chopped pecans are stuffed in tomatoes and then oven-roasted for a simple yet beautiful side dish or healthy vegetarian entree.

8. Bean and barley vegetable soup

For a meatless alternative to beef and barley soup, try this vegetarian version made with beans instead. It's cholesterol-free! The flavor comes from plenty of Italian seasonings, instead of meat, cream, or lots of oil. It's flavored with oregano, celery salt, basil, thyme and bay leaves. Like many soup recipes, this bean and barley soup makes plenty, so plan on having leftovers, or, invite the neighbors to come over to slurp up this soup with you. This recipe is consistently one of the most popular vegetarian recipes every year.

9. More healthy whole grains to try

How many kinds of whole grains can you name? How many are in your usual kitchen cooking repertoire? Expand your list of usual go-to foods by browsing through this list of seven whole grains. Next time you're thinking of making pasta or rice, think about using one of these healthy grains instead. Pictured: Bulgur wheat
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