When looking for ways to build your strength, stamina, and physique, you can always find the best nourishment and energy sustenance in whole grains. Barley is one whole grain that deserves to frequent your dinner plate. Though it was cultivated alongside the more popular wheat about 8,000 years ago in Southwest Asia, barley is an underused grain in our modern western diet. Today, barley is mainly cultivated for use in beer making. While many folks appreciate the art of brewing, beer may not be the best way to make use of the many-faceted benefits of this whole grain.
The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated barley as a food crop roughly 3,000 years ago. The Roman gladiators, the “hordearri,” were known as “barley men” and relied on barley as their staple food for much-needed strength and stamina in the deadly arena. The heads of the barley plant are heavy with seed and were considered symbols of fertility and virility in many ancient cultures. The modern Himalayan diet still depends on this nourishing and strengthening grain. Tsampa is a Himalayan dish made from roasted barley mixed with black tea, salt, and yak butter. The mountain people traditionally rely on this food to supply the strength, resilience, and health needed in this challenging climate. Additionally, barley is known to reduce cholesterol, increase fiber, assist in preventing colorectal cancers, and may help to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetes patients.
In looking for more ways to include this incredible grain in our diet, I found a multitude of common vegetable and barley soup recipes. But I was longing for something unique and different to add to our family repertoire of recipes. I came up with this variation that is reminiscent of Thanksgiving stuffing. It was perfect on a cooler summer evening and took only a few minutes in our beloved electric pressure cooker. And feel free to use fresh herbs in place of dried whenever possible.
Barley, Bulgur, and Black Bean Strengthener
- 3/4 to 1 cup yellow onion, chopped small
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced small
- 8-ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley (loosely packed), chopped
- 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 cup fresh cut summer squash or zucchini
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup quick-cooking bulgur
- 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Tbs thyme
- 1 Tbs sage
- 1 Tbs rosemary
- 1Tbs savory
- 1 Tbs basil
- 1/4-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- to taste salt and pepper
1. In an electric pressure cooker, set to saute. Add chopped onion and garlic, and 1 tbs of water to soften, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add remaining vegetables, spices, nutritional yeast, beans, and broth. Stir 3-5 minutes.
3. Then add rinsed barley. Seal electric pressure cooker with lid (follow specific instructions that may apply to your appliance) and set on pressure cook high for 15 minutes. Once time has completed, allow to slow release.
4. If barley is still uncooked, you can reset the time for 5 more minutes.
**If you don’t have a trusted pressure cooker, you can prepare this dish as a casserole. Combine all ingredients and cover tightly with foil and bake in preheated oven at 350°F for one hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes or until barley is cooked through and tender.
Also by Angie: Vegan Chicken Of The Woods Fajitas
Related: Barley Breakfast Scramble
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Photos: Angie Follensbee-Hall