Creamy Spring Barley

By • May 12, 2011 • 5 Comments

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Author Notes: The night I visited Ad Hoc in Yountville featured a main course of roasted pork alongside barley scattered with fresh spring vegetables. For my own version, I opted to cook the barley risotto-style to encourage a creamy texture. I like asparagus and peas, but any seasonal vegetables will work nicely here. - cookingafterfivenicolecooks

Food52 Review: Using barley is a fantastic variation on a rice risotto. I used a fair amount of lemon as I found it highlighted the vibrancy of spring and the seasonal veggies in this yummy dish. Sauteing an onion or shallot before you toast the barley adds another layer of flavor to an already delicious recipe. - biffbourgeoisStephanie Bourgeois

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 bunch asparagus, thinly sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups barley, rinsed
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Lemon zest, to taste
  • Chives, for garnish
  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil on medium low heat. When the butter is nearly melted, add asparagus and peas; stir to coat. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until cooked through and tender. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. While vegetables cook, bring chicken stock to a boil in a stockpot, then keep it warm by simmering on low heat. In the same pan you used to cook the vegetables, heat another tablespoon each of butter and olive oil on medium low heat. Add the barley and stir to coat. Cook for two minutes, until the barley begins to toast.
  3. Begin adding chicken stock one ladle at a time. Stir gently after each addition, and allow the liquid to absorb into the barley before adding more. Continue this until all the liquid has been used. The entire process will take about 30 minutes. Half way through, you will notice the barley plumping and beginning to become creamy.
  4. When the barley is cooked, add the remaining tablespoon of butter, reserved vegetables, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously for a few seconds to combine everything, then add the lemon zest and test for seasonings. I used about one quarter of a lemon. Serve hot, garnished with chives and extra Parmesan.
Jump to Comments (5)

Tags: adaptable, asparagus, barley, chives, Entrees, lunch, parmesan, peas, Salads, seasonal, Side Dishes, Spring

Comments (5) Questions (0)


about 2 years ago Ariel Shannon Cohen

I loved this! I subbed pearled farro for the barley and added a large shallot to the other vegetables. I also ran short on chicken stock and, not wanting to interrupt the cooking process...heated up some beer and added that! I zested two Meyer lemons into it and was really happy with the results. Thanks for a great recipe.


over 2 years ago JaneEYB

Should this be made with pearled barley? I used whole barley and it never got at all creamy like a risotto and took considerably longer than the 30 minutes cooking time suggested. The result was still good so if I make it again I would like to be sure I'm using the right grain.


about 2 years ago Ariel Shannon Cohen

I used farro instead of barley, but yes, I imagine it's meant for the pearled variety; I used fully pearled farro and it cooked in the specified timeframe. Farro and barley have similar cooking times.


almost 4 years ago FoodieGoesHealthy

Great photo. Looks delicious!


almost 4 years ago Happyolks

This looks lovely! It's so nice to see other cooks using barley, it's an underestimated grain!