All Recipes

Barley with Spinach and Green Olives

Although this recipe is a side dish, barley enthusiasts (like Myra and her children) will happily eat it by the bowlful — but you don’t have to be a devotee to thoroughly enjoy this tasty combo!

Olives are the surprise ingredient here: their briny bite perfectly complements the sweet, chewy barley and the earthy flavor of baby spinach. Pearled barley, which is high in fiber and a good source of protein, offers a great change of pace from brown rice, and it cooks in the same amount of time. If you cook the barley ahead of time, this dish comes together very quickly.

Served with a soup and salad, it also makes a delightful and complete meal. 

From Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone by Myra Goodman & Marea Goodman

Prep time: 15 min | Total time: 90 min | 6 Servings


1 cup

uncooked pearled barley (rinsed)


4 Tbsp

extra-virgin olive oil (divided)


yellow onion (cut into medium dice)


clove garlic (finely chopped)

1 tsp

dried oregano

5 oz

Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach (1 package)

½ cup

chopped green salad olives (without pimentos)

Freshly ground black pepper


Place the barley, 2-1/2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. Cook on high heat, covered, until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer, and cook, covered, until the barley is chewy but tender and all the water is absorbed, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the barley with a fork and let sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano, and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir the barley into the onion mixture and add the remaining olive oil, stirring to combine. Heat slowly over medium heat and, when the barley is hot, add the spinach in handfuls, stirring continually. When all the spinach has been added, stir in the olives. Cook until the spinach is just wilted and the olives are warm, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Per serving: Calories 160, Fat 12 grams, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 430 mg, Carbohydrates 13 grams, Fiber 2 grams, Sugars 2 grams, Protein 2 grams.

Percentage Daily Values per serving (based on a 2,000-calorie diet): Vitamin A 45%, Vitamin C 15%, Calcium 4%, Iron 6%.

You might also like