Breakfast Barley

Barley is a tragically overlooked grain. Available in nearly every grocery store across the country it is the essence of simplicity -- toothy, rustic nutty and delicious. In this version, you boil the barley as you would pasta, in a generous amount of salted boiling water. While we prefer it with a little bit of firmness, you can keep cooking it until it reaches the texture you prefer.

For breakfast serve it as you would oatmeal, warm with milk, cinnamon and nuts or as Sally prefers, mixed with a dollop of ricotta cheese and maple syrup. 

Cook to Cook: Pearl barley is what you want for this recipe. It’s widely available and because the hull and most of the grain’s bran has been polished away, it cooks quickly.

Keeps covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.


  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 3 to 4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1. Place the barley, water, and salt in 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes, until tender. If the barley starts to dry out before it’s fully cooked, simply add more water.

2. Drain in a strainer. Serve hot or at room temperature. Barley reheats beautifully.

From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

Cook time: 
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Makes 3-1/2 to 4 cups

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