Best known in this country as a staple used in soups, this high-fiber grain’s nutty, subtly sweet flavor makes it an ideal accompaniment to meat, chicken, and fish. Both hulled and pearl barley (the most widely available varieties) are stripped of their tough outer covering, but we prefer quicker-cooking pearl barley, which has been polished to remove the bran layer as well.
KNOWING WHEN IT'S DONE: The grains will be softened and plump but still somewhat firm in the center.
TIP: For a hearty alternative to risotto, substitute pearl barley for the Arborio rice typically used. Like rice, the barley will release starches when stirred, creating a creamy consistency. Be sure to add extra liquid since barley takes a bit longer to cook.
TRY IT IN: Barley Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash