Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers & Spinach

Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers & Spinach

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.

From EatingWell: November/December 1995, The Essential EatingWell Cookbook (2004)
Yield: 12 servings, about 2/3 cup each
Active Time: 60
Total Time: 60


  1. 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil, divided
  2. 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, (1 large or 2 medium)
  3. 1 3/4 cups quick-cooking or pearl barley
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  6. 3-4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  7. 12 ounces assorted mushrooms, (cremini, shiitake and/or button), wiped clean, trimmed and sliced (4 cups)
  8. 1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper, (1 large or 2 medium)
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  11. 4 cups spinach leaves, thinly sliced
  12. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste


  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 sauté until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add spinach leaves and stir just until they have wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sautéed vegetables to the cooked barley and stir gently to mix. Season with vinegar, salt and pepper.

Tips & Notes

  • 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 Per Serving: 121 calories; 2 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 1 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber; 95 mg sodium; 265 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (50% daily value), Vitamin A (25% dv).

1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat