4 Barley Recipes for Meatless Monday: Discover this Beauty of a Grain

kale and barley recipes

The rich, malty, nutty flavor of barley makes it a great staple for Meatless Monday meals. While the grains of barley themselves look a bit like wheat berries, they have a slightly sweeter flavor than wheat that pairs well with a variety of different ingredients. Some recipes will call for barley groats, which have not had the bran removed and are chewier than more commonly used pearled barley, which cooks more quickly and ends up more tender. These four barley recipes show you how to use both and will wow you with barley’s versatility.

First up, a kale and barley salad that combines the bright, fresh flavors of lemon with a touch of sweetness from currants. The kale is both an element of the salad and the main ingredient in the pesto that coats the barley, bringing the different ingredients together. Optional preserved lemon adds even more depth of flavor to this dish.

barley recipes - tomato barley soupImage courtesy of Swanson Organic Broth

This rustic soup is just as delicious with vegetable broth as with chicken broth, making it ideal for Meatless Monday. The other ingredients — rich, roasted tomatoes, onions, and garlic, and nutty pearl barley — add tons of flavor. In fact, you’ll be surprised at what deep aromas you’ll get from a soup that takes under an hour to make.

barley recipes - barley risottoBarley risotto image via Shutterstock

Barley takes the place of rice in this barley risotto recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi. This barley recipe was actually invented by accident: Ottolenghi was attempting to make a filling for stuffed zucchini, but when he tasted this combination of barley, garlic, tomato, paprika, a touch of chili, and fresh herbs, he decided to serve it as-is. This risotto can be topped with a sheep’s milk feta, if you like, or simply with a sprinkling of lemon zest and fresh cilantro.

End of Summer Eats: Barley Spinach and Herb Salad RecipeVegetable Salad image from Shutterstock

This simple barley and herb salad recipe is the perfect Meatless Monday dish to make a big batch of and enjoy cold for lunch on Tuesday. The salad unites a combination of pearled barley, almonds, and a variety of vegetables including spinach, cherry tomatoes, and corn. Topped with a simple balsamic vinaigrette and a touch of fresh cilantro, this unique salad is sure to become a family favorite.

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Kale and barley salad image via Shutterstock

Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.