Barley Pilaf; 10,000 years of history

Barley Pilaf


It's not just for soup!

As a child, my favorite Campbell's soup was Beef Barley.

It's only been in recent years that I've realized barley can actually be used for other things…

Like Chicken Barley Soup.

Um, I need to correct that last statement.  When I was at university I did learn that another, very important use for barley, was in the making of that college dietary staple: beer.  Now that I think about it, I consumed rather a lot of barley in that form… Think of how healthy I must have been.

Almost half of the barley grown in the US is used in making beer.  The other half is used for animal feed with a small portion going for human consumption – primarily  beef barley soup.

That is changing, chez moi.

We eat a lot of different grains.  In a typical week we'll have whole grain pasta, 2 or 3 different rices, and quinoa or barley as alternatives to the potatoes we were both raised on.

Variety makes life more interesting and healthier.

The barley that I get is 'quick-cooking', and only takes about 15 minutes to cook.  Quick-cooking barley is usually pearled barley that has been pre-steamed to shorten the end cooking time.  The steaming leaves the nutrients intact.

The other forms of barley available are:

Hulled: The minimum outer shell is removed leaving a chewy, robust grain.  It takes 60 – 90 minutes to cook.
Pearled: After the hull is removed the grain is polished or 'pearled'.  More polishing makes the barley quicker to cook and somewhat less nutrient dense.  It takes 50 – 60 minutes to cook.
Pot/Scotch: Somewhere between Hulled and Pearled and more common in Europe.  It cooks in about an hour.

If you are looking to add fiber to your diet, barley's your grain.

It has more than 3 times the fiber of brown rice, or blueberries; more than twice that of whole-wheat spaghetti or an apple.

In addition it's high in selenium, tryptophan, copper, manganese and phosphorus. 

It's been shown to help lower cholesterol and control Type 2 Diabetes.

It's fiber is particularly friendly to the bacteria that live in your gut, keeping your intestines healthy and happy.

It's been an important food crop for the last 10,000 years or so….

I guess I'm a wee bit late in my personal discovery.

In addition to the soup, I've also made Barley, Risotto Style, Barley with Herbs, and this Barley Pilaf that I am submitting to Weekend Herb Blogging.

This week's host is Zorra, of Kochtopf.  Visit her blog on Monday, the 29th, for all the interesting recipes.

The event  was founded by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, where you can find the archives for all of the wonderful, creative recipes for the past 149 weeks!

Barley Pilaf

Barley Pilaf    Preparation and cooking time: 25 minutes  Serves 2

1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock (or more, depending on type of barley)
1 small – medium carrot
1/2 onion
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs dry sherry
1 tbs fresh, snipped basil
1 tsp olive oil

Chop onion and carrot. Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add onion, carrot and sauté until they start to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add barley, stock, soy sauce and sherry; stir to combine. Cover and simmer until barley is done, about 15 minutes or according to package directions. Snip basil. When barley is done, remove from heat, stir in basil and serve.

The first recorded recipe for barley wine was written in 2,800 BC in Babylon.  Wonder if it aged….

And to think a 6-pack was a balance meal…..

13 thoughts on “Barley Pilaf; 10,000 years of history”

  1. Beef-with-barley was my favorite soup as a kid too. Then as an adult it was Scotch Broth (lamb and barley) which I can no longer find. Grrr!!!! So I’m looking to make my own. Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe for Scotch Broth that I’ve been meaning to try.
    Anyway, I love barley in general (in beer or out of beer!) so I’ll definitely have to try your pilaf.

  2. You are so healthy! and timely since I’m expecting cooler temperatures and soup is a lovely possibility now . . . with some fresh bread . . . but hey wouldn’t that pilaf be good with fresh bread too!

  3. Lulu, I remember Scotch Broth!!!!
    Ulrike, yes, how could I hve forgotten that most important use!!!
    Tigerfish, I’ve heard of that, but never tasted it.
    Tanna, anything is good with fresh bread… even nothing but butter…. or olive oil…. or chocolate…

  4. Well, I feel well-educated after that post! Amazing. Oh, and the dish looks scrumptious, too.
    Thanks for the comment…and I WISH I had been sipping a rose’ on the Adriatic! Alas, it was just life happening.

  5. Hi Katie
    My Mum made great beef and barley soup. I have never cooked with it.I think a lot of young people still think a 6 pack is a meal. Nothing changes there
    I was going to mention Whiskey as a source but how about Lemon and Barley water my favourite cordial when I was growing up. Now that’s something I should revive. Spring is well on its way here in the Antipodes Beautiful day today.

  6. I love barley! So, what is the most “healthy” or “whole” style of barley then – the hulled? I love just the simple addition of carrots in this dish – I can just imagine it’s sweet flavor complimented by the sherry.

  7. Jeni, I’m also grateful for my vivid imagination….esp. when life is happening to me…
    Gilli, Spring!!! I normally love fall, which we are well into, but only after summer which we didn’t have again this year. So I’ll be jealous of spring. Never had Lemon and Barley water… sounds interesting
    Michelle, the most healthy is the barely hulled… which takes over an hour to cook and I can’t even buy here. I figure I’ll just eat what I get and know it’s healthier than minute rice….

  8. I am new here and I like your blog! I am a Chinese and not good at English.
    Why am I here?
    Because of food.
    I was searching for the usage of Barley, because I make a plain barley soup. To be honest, it tastes less. It was my first experience to eat Barley. I used to have Perl Barley. Is there any different form them?
    I like your story too, make me laughing. And I like your recipe, I need try them.
    Have good weekends,

Comments are closed.

Share via
Copy link