I have organic "pearl barley" from a farmer's market.
How do I cook it? Liquid, timing?
I cook it just like rice. 1 part barley to 2 parts liquid, bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
It's even better if you sautee an onion in some olive oil first, then sautee the barley for a bit, add some fresh thyme, and finally add chicken broth.
I would add sliced mushrooms towards the end of cooking. I also stir it up a bit so that it's creamy like a risotto.
I've recently started cooking barley regularly. It's good for you and a nice change from rice. Plus you can add things to it -- e.g., sauteed corn, peppers & onions. You can cook it and let it sit while you make the rest of your dinner.
You'll want to rinse it well before adding it to 3x quantity boiling water (or stock), add some salt, cover and cook 25-30 mins.
I make a sort of risotto with barley.
It will take longer, and use more fluid but its a worthwile thing to do.
I saw a tv cook called Sophie Grigson make it and she always seems to do food that you can trust.
Other than that, it's good to add a small handful to soups and stews to add a bitof depth of flavour and to thicken.
Let me know what you do.
Here are two (tried and tested):
Toasted Barley and Mushroom "Risotto" (I don't have an attribution for this)
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Servings: 3-4 as main-course
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup pearl barley
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed mushrooms
2 large shallots, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced, about 1/2 Tbsp.
3 cups chicken broth, heated
1 Tbsp. each: minced fresh rosemary, snipped fresh chives
2 tsps. unsalted butter
2 Tbsps. grated imported Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat, shaking pan
to coat bottom with oil. Stir in barley. Cook, stirring, until
lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms,
shallots and garlic; cook, stirring, until mushrooms are heated through, about 2 minutes.
2. Add 1/2 cup of broth to barley mixture. Cook, stirring, until broth is absorbed. Repeat with remaining broth as needed, adding 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in remaining mushrooms about 5 minutes before barley is done. Barley is done when it is tender, creamy and firm, about 20 minutes. Stir in rosemary, chives, butter, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Pass additional cheese separately.
Barley Pilaf (attributed to jmcquown)
1/3 c. pearl barley
1 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 Tbs. minced parsley
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add to barley in a 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Add the remaining ingredients to the barley. Cover and bake at 325F for 1 hour, or until liquid is absorbed. Serves 2; may be doubled.