How to make perfect barley in the oven / Rainbow barley salad

I love barley. Unfortunately, it's kind of a pain to cook, and I have a hard time finding good recipes for it.

I solved both those problems this week!

It occurred to me that I could make barley in the oven the same way I make brown rice. It only took me two tries to get it right.

Then I had to find things to do with my barley. First I added it to soup, which was nice. Next I tried it in a favorite salad, and I loved the way it turned out.

I've included my new recipe for Rainbow Barley Salad below. If you use red and orange peppers and red onion, it has all the rainbow colors except blue. Tiger Lily actually ate it without complaining, which was a small miracle. If you want to economize and use green pepper and white onion, though, it will still taste about the same.


Oven-cooked barley


You'll need one of the following, in order of preference: (a) A lidded Dutch oven, (b) a heavy, lidded casserole dish, or (c) a lidless oven-proof cast iron, glass, or ceramic dish covered tightly with two layers of foil. If the lid to your Dutch oven or casserole dish doesn't fit tightly, consider using a layer of foil between the dish and the lid.

My first preference is for the Dutch oven. You might need to experiment a little to find what works best with your equipment. I find that if there's too little in a dish, it needs slightly more water and a shorter baking time to keep it from getting crunchy.


For each cup of barley, add 3 cups water, 1 teaspoon oil, and 1/2–1 teaspoon salt.


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring your water to a boil on the stove (amounts above). If you're using a stove-proof dish such as the Dutch oven, use it. If not, you'll need to use a different pot and transfer it to your baking dish in the next step.

2. If you're using a Dutch oven, add oil, salt, and barley to your water (the amounts on oil and salt are highly flexible, and I never measure). If you're using a casserole dish, add the barley, salt, and oil to the dish and then pour water over. Stir briefly if needed, cover tightly, and transfer to the oven.

3. Bake for one hour (check after 50 minutes if you are making one cup or less; likewise, if you're making a very large quantity or if you've added a lot of veggies, etc., it might take longer). You can turn the oven off after 30 minutes, and if you do, you can leave the barley in the oven for an hour or two afterward if you need to.

4. Remove from oven. Stir, taking care to incorporate the dryer barley from the edges into the middle. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes or more; the dryer barley will soften during this time.


Rainbow barley salad

I economized and used green peppers in this version.

Salad ingredients
  • 1 cup barley, cooked
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Dressing ingredients
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Combine dressing ingredients and mix well.
  2. Mix dressing with salad ingredients

Serves 6. 

1 comment:

  1. Well for yummy! Thanks for sharing, I love barley too, but have not taken time to learn to do anything with it except add it to soups. The salad is just what I like!