Did you know that pearled barley is actually regular barley with all the hull and bran removed? On the aesthetic side, this gives pearled barley shiny round grains with pearly white color. When it comes to functionality, this makes this type of barley easier and faster to cook. Also, it is less chewy than regular barley, and it is similar to wheat in its vitamin and mineral, protein and caloric content.
This grain is usually used to prepare potages, soups, and stews, and it is also one of the main ingredients of the famous Italian dish orzotto. There are four essential ways of preparing this barley: basic cooking, baking, cooking soup and tossing salad. In this article, you will learn about all of them.
How To Cook Plain Barley?
A basic pearled barley dish usually contains only water and barley (two cups of water on one cup of barley), but if you want to enhance the flavor or spice things up a bit, you can add salt to the water or use broth instead of water. Here is a step by step guide to cooking the plainest pearled barley.
1. Combine water and barley in a large pot.
2. Place the pot on the stove on high heat and bring the water to a boil.
3. Once it starts boiling, cover the pot with a lid.
4. Watch the barley closely and stir it once in a while to minimize the risk of spills.
5. Reduce the heat and cook for another half an hour.
6. If you see the water boiled prematurely, feel free to add another cup.
7. Cook until the water is fully absorbed.
8. When the barley triples in size and becomes soft, then it’s done.
9. Once you turn off the heat, you should let the barley sit for about 15 minutes without stirring.
10. If there is still excess water after this time, you should drain it away.
11. You can add some seasonings and/or olive oil when it’s done.
12. Serve as a side dish.
How To Bake Pearled Barley In The Oven?
When baked in the oven, pearled barley is an extraordinary side dish that goes perfectly with all sorts of meat, ranging from the ones with a stronger flavor, such as beef, to milder ones like chicken breasts. Here is how to prepare it.
● Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
● Prepare an oven-safe baking dish.
● Pour two cups of water in a pot, and bring it to a boil over high heat.
● Pour the barley into the baking dish, and pour the boiled water on top of it. Stir.
● Stir in half tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of butter.
● Cover the baking dish with a lid or an aluminum foil.
● Put the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for about an hour.
● When you remove the dish from the oven, stir it slightly with a spoon or fork.
● Serve alongside the main course.
How To Cook A Delicious Pearled Barley Soup?
Barley soup is a tasty and healthy meal, and it can be made with so many variations, including vegetarian style, and with beef or chicken broth. Here is one of those recipes to try out, but you can add or extract as many ingredients as you can.
1. Soak three to five large mushrooms in hot water 30 minutes in advance.
2. Melt a spoonful of butter in a large pot over medium heat.
3. Meanwhile, chop some carrots, onions, and celery into bite-sized pieces.
4. Strain the water from the mushroom bowl and chop them into smaller pieces.
5. Add the onions, celery, and carrots into the pot with melted butter.
6. Stir until the onions are translucent. It will take about five minutes.
7. Stir in some minced garlic and then add the mushrooms.
8. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft (another five minutes).
9. Add one tablespoon of flour, and lower the heat to medium-low.
10. Stir the mixture until everything becomes thick and sticky.
11. Gradually pour a cup of broth (beef, chicken, vegetable…) and constantly stir to combine the mixture well. Don’t ever add the broth all at once, or else the liquid will be inconsistent.
12. Stir in uncooked pearled barley.
13. Add salt to taste.
14. Let the liquid reach boil and then cover the pot.
15. Reduce the mixture to a simmer, and leave to cook for about one hour more.
16. You will notice the soup is good to serve when the barley becomes soft, and the liquid has thickened.
How To Toss A Pearled Barley Salad?
A barley salad can be eaten as a stand-alone meal, especially during hot summer days, or if you are trying to lose weight, but it can also be served alongside a dish. To prepare the salad, you will first need to cook the barley. Here’s how you’re going to do it.
● Cook one cup of barley in two or three cups of water over medium heat.
● Once you bring water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour more, until soft.
● Drain, and leave the barley to cool on room temperature for half an hour.
● Pour the cooked and cooled barley in a bowl.
● Add vegetables to your liking, e.g., one chopped onion and one chopped tomato.
● For extra taste, you can add strong flavored cheese, such as feta.
● Toss well to combine everything evenly.
● In a small bowl combine olive oil, red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.
● Mix these ingredients well and pour the dressing over the barley salad.
What Goes Well With Barley?
If you are going to serve barley as a side dish or you want to know what kind of seasonings you could use with this grain, the answer is simple: it goes well with almost anything. Pearled barley has a pretty plain taste so that it can be complemented with various seasonings including hot, sour and salty ones.
When it comes to serving it as a side dish or preparing a salad, the situation is pretty much the same. For a salad, it is better to use crunchy hard vegetables, since they can contrast the soft texture of the cooked barley better than gentler veggies. As a side dish, barley goes great with meats, but it can also be served with grilled vegetables or cheese.
Many people dislike pearled barley precisely because of its unobtrusive taste, but this is exactly what makes barley such a versatile ingredient and gives you tons of possibilities to experiment with it. So give it a try, you might like it.