a bowl of barley and kale with lemon and red chili pepper in background
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Barley with Lemon and Kale

A hearty side-dish or vegetarian main dish. Barley, lots of greens with lemon and garlic for a little kick.
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: wholegrain
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Trish | The In Fine Balance Food Blog


  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • salted water - a least 1 quart
  • 1 lb of fresh kale
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice from one lemon
  • olive oil for tossing


Cook barley

  • Bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan, add barley and cook until tender. About 45 minutes. To drain pour water and barley through a large mesh sieve and set over the pot (off the heat) to drain completely while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

For the kale:

  • Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and then the chopped onions. Saute onions until soft and slightly caramelized. This will take about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two. Toss in hot pepper flakes, stir a bit, then add kale (it will seem like so, so much kale, but it will cook down). Continue to saute until the kale is tender and wilted - 5 to 7 minutes - then remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, or in the cooling saute pan, toss barley, kale and lemon zest together. Sprinkle with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a little of your favourite rich tasting extra virgin olive oil and serve.