Good Question: How Do I Cook Barley?

Do you have any great vegetarian barley recipes? Can you help Cheryl out? She writes:

I LOVE barley! The only recipes I know are good soup recipes with barley. How else can I prepare it? I'm a vegetarian, so if you could recommend any vegetarian barley recipes, I'd be so happy!

Cheryl, we love barley too! Barley has that wonderfully chewy texture and a nutty flavor that reminds us of toasted bread. It's not just all for soups, though; barley makes wonderful risottos and pilafs. It is also good cooked and tossed in salads. It takes about 40 minutes to cook on the stovetop, and about half that in a pressure cooker. You can also cook it covered in the oven with water or milk; we like to do this with nuts and spices as a breakfast pilaf.

Here are a few recipes from elsewhere that show off its goodness in risotto-like dishes.

Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad - Pictured above - looks delicious.
Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Hazelnuts - So springlike!
Roasted Cauliflower Barley Risotto - Another vegetarian recipe (just substitute out the chicken broth). It calls for toasting the barley, which gives it an even deeper flavor.

Here are a few more ideas from The Kitchn:

Recipe: Yogurt Barley Soup
Roasted Beet Salad with Barley, Feta, and Red Onion
Savory Apples with Barley and Sausage
Reader Cupboard Challenge: Lentils, Salmon, Barley, Clam Juice and Moonshine Jelly

Readers, do you have any more ideas for Cheryl?

Related: Good Grains: What Is Spelt?

(Image: Romulo Yanes for Gourmet)