Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers & Spinach

Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers & Spinach

5 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, Holiday Issue 1996

Flecks of sweet red pepper and spinach add festive flair to the classic mushroom and barley combo. You can use either convenient quick-cooking barley or pearl barley, but note that the amount of liquid and the cooking times will vary.

Ingredients 12 servings

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Original recipe yields 12 servings
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  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil, divided
  • 1½ cups chopped onion, (1 large or 2 medium)
  • 1¾ cups quick-cooking or pearl barley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3-4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 12 ounces assorted mushrooms, (cremini, shiitake and/or button), wiped clean, trimmed and sliced (4 cups)
  • 1½ cups diced red bell pepper, (1 large or 2 medium)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups spinach leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste


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  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add barley, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 30 to 60 seconds. Pour in broth (3 cups if using quick-cooking barley, 4 cups if using pearl barley) and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat until the barley is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes for quick-cooking barley or about 45 minutes for pearl barley.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper and saute until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add spinach leaves and stir just until they have wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sauteed vegetables to the cooked barley and stir gently to mix. Season with vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in a covered casserole in a moderate oven or in the microwave.

Nutrition information

  • Per serving: 118 calories; 2 g fat(0 g sat); 3 g fiber; 22 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 37 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 1,369 IU vitamin A; 22 mg vitamin C; 19 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 198 mg sodium; 309 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (37% daily value), Vitamin A (27% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat

Reviews 5

September 18, 2018
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By: Mirabelle
I just made this, added lemon juice instead of vinegar and some hot chilli flakes, and added 2 cups of cooked black beans to make this a complete meal. Delicious!
November 10, 2017
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By: gtollinda
I make this and freeze portions for two. Very microwavable and tasty! Easy to make and nutritional. What a wonderful option to rice pilaf!
May 17, 2016
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By: EatingWell User
Very yummy I really liked this. I didn't put in mushrooms however since nobody in my family likes them. I used pearl barley with the 4 cups of vegetable broth. I would recommend planning to cook it for at least 30ish minutes unlike the 10-12 the recipe says. I will make again. Pros: Good texture. A lot of flavor
May 25, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I never ate barley before, but this was great. I recommend this recipe to everyone. I added chicken and had a great meal.
September 05, 2009
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By: marlowlu
This was great. I made 1/2 the recipe since there are only two of us but I wish I hadn't held back. I used pearl barley - be prepared to let it cook the full 45 minutes. I would definitely make this again. The recipe is probably good with any vegetable substitutions.
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