I didn’t learn to enjoy hot cereals until I spent a winter in St. Petersburg, Russia, with weeks of subzero mornings. A kasha blend of mixed grains is now one of my go-to breakfasts for chilly Montana mornings. Although delicious, it doesn’t taste or look as good when it sits, so it’s best made and eaten immediately. That’s why when I want to make a large batch of hot cereal to serve to a group or keep on hand to quickly reheat and eat over a few days, I choose pearl barley.
As I explain in my Twice as Tasty column for the Flathead Beacon, I recently started making pearl barley in the pressure cooker, a technique I hadn’t thought workable because I feared it would foam and stop up the pressure valve. By using a water bath, that fear has vanished. The reward: it takes less than half the time as cooking pearl barley on the stovetop. So you can prepare it on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker, depending on the tools you have at hand.
Learn more about cooking pearl barley and get the complete recipe for Hot Pearl Barley with Honeyed Nuts in my column.
Twice as Tasty
Pearl barley isn’t just for breakfast or sweeter dishes. It’s actually often eaten as a savory dish. My first memorable experience with pearl barley was in a mushroom–barley soup that I learned to make while in Russia. My language instructor would only give me her recipe in Russian, so I had to learn to translate all of the cooking terms first. That may be why the dish is so memorable, although it is delicious.
Meat eaters may recognize pearl barley from a beef and barley soup. It also delicious in bean-based soups, like Mixed-Bean Soup. For soups, it usually works best to cook the barley with the other soup ingredients, rather than cooking it separately on the stovetop or pressure cooker.
If you cook up enough plain pearl barley that you have leftovers, you can use it in a range of meals. I mix tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan into the pearl barley as it reheats in a sauté pan and then top it with sautéed oyster mushrooms and roasted garlic—no recipe required. You can also substitute it for other grains in these recipes on the blog:
- Instead of buckwheat: Roasted Vegetables with Tofu and Buckwheat or Buckwheat Porridge with Mushrooms and Eggs
- Instead of Arborio rice: Squash–Mushroom Risotto
- Instead of quinoa: Warm Quinoa and Feta Salad
You can find more ideas for using grains in sweet and savory meals in the recipe index.
Want more Twice as Tasty recipes? Get my books! Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy of The Complete Guide to Pickling directly from me. I also share tasty ways to use pickles in The Pickled Picnic, a digital collection in an easy-to-read PDF format; it’s only available here.