Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere

Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese on plate with crispy bacon bits and diced chives on top and spoon with scoop on side of plate. It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.
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Creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious describes this one here, my friends!  This is my Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese and it is definitely a must-try side dish!  This recipe takes a healthy, let’s face it, rather unappealing and chewy grain, and turns it into something so delicious, it’s almost naughty.  The garlic, bacon, and gruyere cheese work together to give barley the make-over it deserves and your taste buds a true delight!

SO EASY!  Everything, including boiling the barley, can be prepped ahead, so that right before eating, you just need to spend 15 minutes making the sauce, then mixing it with the barley.

CHECK OUT THIS TUTORIAL SHOWING HOW TO MAKE THIS!

Velvety Barley Recipe With Bacon & Gruyere by talkingmeals on Jumprope.

What to serve with this Barley Recipe

This recipe goes great with anything from chicken to seafood to steak to roasted veggies.  My favorite to serve with this Barley are Glazed Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic and Honey.   Parmesan Crusted Chicken & Asparagus has both the chicken and the veggie baking in the oven at the same time!  Or a simple Mediterranean marinated chicken breast goes well this or even Baked Coconut Shrimp.  I also love Hungarian Chicken with the smokey paprika that pairs so well with the bacon in this barley.  

WHAT IS BARLEY? 

Barley is a grain and is sold in most grocery stores today.  It’s typically sold as Pearl or Pearled Barley, but you can also find Hulled barley.  Hulled is where only the indigestible outer husk/shell is removed, but the bran layer is left.  It takes longer to cook to a soft texture than Pearl barley, about an hour.  Hulled Barley has more fiber and nutrients because it still has the bran.  Pearl Barley, which is what I found in my store and used in this recipe, has both the husk and bran layers removed.  It’s still very nutritious, but without the bran, has less fiber and nutrients than the Hulled version.   

Barley has so many healthy benefits!  It’s a great source of Fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. Barley contains both insoluble and soluble fiber.  Insoluble fiber helps to improve digestion and prevent constipation.  While soluble fiber reduces hunger and enhances feelings of fullness.  Barley also contains antioxidants linked to a lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

There really is nothing special required for this recipe. You will just need a medium pot to cook the barley and a large skillet/frying pan for cooking the bacon, making the sauce, then mixing everything together. I use my absolute favorite 12″ Ceramic Pan, which is great because food really does slide right off with minimal oil and I don’t have to worry about food sticking and burning. 

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR THIS BARLEY RECIPE

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below) 

Dice the bacon. Finely slice the chives. 

Cook the Barley then drain off the excess water and then set aside or store in the fridge until ready to make the sauce.  Barley is boiled in water, it’s not steamed like rice.  It takes longer than rice or pasta to cook because it’s a harder grain that takes longer to soften to a nice chew texture.  Total time to simmer is between 30-40 minutes, depending on how soft you prefer it to be.

Can I cook the bacon ahead?

You can cook the bacon according to the recipe instructions up to 5 days in advance.  If you do this, please note, you will want to save the bacon fat.  The bacon fat is used in the sauce to cook the garlic and give rich bacon flavor.  Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to cool and crisp up, as per the instructions.  Then, pour the fat into a glass container and store it sealed in the fridge.  It will turn to a solid and when you are ready to make the sauce, you simply scoop it into the pan and it will melt beautifully.

Or…you can make the entire sauce ahead and either mix it with the barley or store in a container in the fridge.

Can I use Turkey bacon, Pancetta, or other replacement?

Yes, you can either eliminate the bacon or replace it.  If you use something very lean, such as turkey bacon, you will need to supplement with olive oil when you add the garlic.  If you use pancetta, dice it and use it the same way as the bacon.  If you render it, you should get enough fat, but you can supplement with olive oil as needed.

COOK YOUR SAUCE & FINISH THE BARLEY RECIPE 

Preheat a large frying pan. Add the diced bacon on medium-low heat. Stir so that the bacon doesn’t burn. Render the fat and crip the bacon, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon leaving the fat behind and place on a plate to the side or store in the fridge if doing this in advance.

Raw diced bacon in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese.  It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Spoon scooping out cooked diced bacon in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese.  It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Make the cornstarch slurry by whisking in the cornstarch to the milk. set aside.

To the pan with the bacon fat, add the garlic (add the olive oil if more fat is needed). Stir the garlic and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.

Garlic added to bacon fat in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese.  It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Whisk in the broth, ground pepper, and milk cornstarch slurry. Continue to whisk as it heats and start to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Then whisk in the shredded cheese and half of the chives.

Whisk stirring thickened sauce leave a track on bottom of large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese.  It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Whisk mixing shredded gruyere cheese into sauce in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese.  It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Finally, add the barley to the sauce and warm through. Taste for seasoning and add a dash of salt and pepper as needed. Serve and garnish with the remaining parsley. Enjoy!

Spatula mixing cooked barley into cheese sauce in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese.  It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Spoon mixing cooked bacon bits into Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese in large pan on stove.  It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

What other cheeses can I use?

If you don’t have gruyere cheese, you can use cheddar, manchego, gouda, jack, or other medium-firm melty shredded cheese.  You can use soft cheeses as well, such as brie or goat cheese, just be sure to really stir them in as they melt.  Finally, you can use a very firm cheese, such as grated parmesan, as well.

Can I make this ahead and/or freeze?

You can make this recipe ahead and store in the refridgerator for up to 5 days in advance.  To warm, you can place it in the oven at 350F degrees for 15-20 minutes, until warmed through.  You can also warm in the microwave.  

You can freeze this in a freezer-safe AND oven-safe container for up to 6 months in advance.  To reheat, you can place in the oven directly from the freezer and reheat at 350F degrees for 30-45 minutes or until warmed through to the center.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese on plate with crispy bacon bits and diced chives on top and spoon with scoop on side of plate. It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Have you tried this recipe? If so, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe below! I love to hear your feedback and your rating helps others to find this recipe. Thanks so much!

Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere

Creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious describes this one here, my friends!  This is my Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese and it is definitely a must-try side dish!  This recipe takes a healthy, let's face it, rather unappealing and chewy grain, and turns it into something so delicious, it's almost naughty.  The garlic, bacon, and gruyere cheese work together to give barley the make-over it deserves! Everything, including boiling the barley, can be prepped ahead, so that right before eating, you just need to spend 15 minutes making the sauce, then mixing it with the barley.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword barley, grains, healthy sides, side dishes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Dry Barley, pearled or hulled (I used pear)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 slices Bacon
  • 1 teaspoon Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Milk, 1% (any milk fat content is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 dash Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 1/4 cup Chives, finely diced

Instructions

Prep Ahead Steps

  1. Dice the bacon. Finely slice the chives.

  2. Boil a large pot of water for the Barley. Once the water is boiling, add a teaspoon of salt. Add the Barley and stir. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes until it reaches your desired tenderness. Drain off the excess water and then set aside or store in the fridge until ready to make and add to the sauce.

Cooking Steps

  1. Preheat a large frying pan. Add the diced bacon on medium-low heat. Stir so that the bacon doesn't burn. Render the fat and crip the bacon, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon leaving the fat behind and place on a plate lined with paper towel. Set to the side or store in the fridge if doing this in advance.

    Spoon scooping out cooked diced bacon in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese. It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.
  2. Make the cornstarch slurry by whisking in the cornstarch to the milk. set aside.

  3. To the pan with the bacon fat, add the garlic (add the olive oil if more fat is needed). Stir the garlic and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.

    Garlic added to bacon fat in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese. It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.
  4. Whisk in the broth, ground pepper, and milk cornstarch slurry. Continue to whisk as it heats and start to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Then whisk in the shredded cheese and half of the chives.

    Whisk mixing shredded gruyere cheese into sauce in large frying pan for Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese. It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.
  5. Add the barley and the bacon (reserve some for topping) to the sauce, mix together and warm through. Taste for seasoning and add a dash of salt and pepper as needed. Serve and garnish with the remaining bacon and chives. Enjoy!

    Spoon mixing cooked bacon bits into Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere Cheese in large pan on stove. It's creamy, rich, nutty, smokey, hearty, and utterly delicious.

Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce!

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Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce is creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!  And it really could not be an easier dinner.  After just a bit of prep, it comes together so quickly on the stove. 

You get the creaminess from the ricotta that is infused with a fantastic garlic backdrop.  The mushrooms give a meaty and earthy bite.  Then the bacon adds smokey and salty highlights.  For a bit of color and texture, I also added Soy beans – or shelled edamame!  My family all hate peas, so this was the perfect fresh substitute. 

Quick Stovetop Dinners

Having some quick stovetop dinners on your go-to list can be a lifesaver for busy families.  I love to have different types too, so some rice, pasta, quinoa, veggie, or just fillings for tacos or sandwiches.  Here are some of my family’s favorite Easy Stovetop Dinners!

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

You need a large skillet/frying pan for making the sauce and mixing in the pasta. I use my absolute favorite 12″ Ceramic Pan, which is great because food really does slide right off with minimal oil and I don’t have to worry about food sticking and burning. 

And mincing garlic is made super easy with a Garlic Press.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR PASTA WITH RICOTTA, BACON, & MUSHROOMS

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below) 

To prep for this you simply need to dice the bacon.  If you need to, mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms.  Also, make sure that your shelled edamame are thawed if needed.

That’s it!  

Can I replace the edamame?

Of course.  The edamame (soy beans) add more protein to this recipe if you are planning to make it the main dish.  However, if you want to make it a side or add in chicken or other protein, you can add any veggies you like!  Peas are great in this, or diced carrots, zucchini, spinach, kale, broccoli, or sweet peppers.

Can I use turkey bacon or pancetta?

Of course, however, you may not get the amount of fat as you would with bacon for cooking the mushrooms.  If you use turkey bacon, you are likely to get no fat rendering, so just add in olive oil for the mushrooms.  Pancetta will render some fat, but supplement as needed.

COOK YOUR PASTA WITH RICOTTA, BACON, & MUSHROOMS

While the pasta cooks, preheat a large skillet or frying pan on medium heat. Add the diced bacon. Separate the pieces into a single layer using a spatula. Let the fat render and the bacon start to crisp – about 10 minutes.

To the bacon, add the mushroom slices and spread out into a single layer. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the mushrooms have a nice sear on both sides. Add the edamame beans and garlic to the mushrooms and stir to combine.

Mushroom slices and Bacon bits cooking in pan for Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce on stove. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!

Turn the heat to the lowest setting and add the half and half to deglaze the pan and scrape up any of the browned bits. Then add the ricotta cheese, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine the sauce. Add the pasta to the sauce (or sauce to the pasta) and toss to combine. Add in 1/4 of the reserved pasta water to the pasta and toss again. Transfer to a serving platter or plates and garnish with fresh parsley.

Cream, mushrooms, edamame, and Bacon bits cooking in pan for Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce on stove. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!

Spatula mixing Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce in pan on stove. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!Pasta added to pan with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce on stove. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!

What to serve with this Pasta?

This pasta is really the star, so you can go very simple with any added protein.  I like to add a very simple grilled, seared, or roasted Mediterranean Chicken breast.  You can also serve sauteed or grilled shrimp.  Or how about these amazing Healthy Meatballs with Zucchini!!

Can you make this entirely ahead?  Can you freeze it?

Yes, you can make this entire dish ahead, mix the sauce with the pasta, and then warm up up to 5 days later.  To warm it, you may want to add a touch of half and half or milk to loosen it up.  Then warm it on the stove in a covered pot on low heat, stirring often to ensure it doesn’t brown.  Or you can reheat it in the oven covered at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes or until warmed in the center.  Or you can reheat it in the microwave.

You can freeze the entire dish, though it may get mushy upon reheating.  Rather, I would freeze just the sauce and after thawing, mixing it with fresh pasta and warming it all up as mentioned above.  

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce on a plate with fork and pan in background. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious! Finally, shelled edamame for a bit of color and texture!
Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce on a plate with fork and pan in background. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious! Finally, shelled edamame for a bit of color and texture!
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Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce

Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce is creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!  And it really could not be an easier 30-minute dinner.  You get the creaminess from the ricotta with a fantastic garlic backdrop.  The mushrooms give a meaty and earthy bite.  Then the bacon adds smokey and salty highlights.  Finally, shelled edamame for a bit of color and texture!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Bacon, mushrooms, pasta, ricotta
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 4 strips Bacon
  • 6 ounces White Button Mushrooms, Sliced
  • 6 ounces Cooked Shelled Edamame
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half
  • 16 oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces Uncooked Rigatoni or other short cut pasta

Instructions

Pre-Ahead Steps

  1. Dice the bacon strips. Chop the parsley. Mince the garlic, if needed. Slice the mushrooms, if needed.

  2. If your edamame is frozen, soak in warm water or put into the microwave to thaw.

Cooking Steps

  1. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Add a tsp of salt to the water and then add the pasta to the boiling water and stir so they do not stick together. Bring back to a boil and cook for 7-8 minutes until al dente. Save 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta and add it back to the pot and cover while you finish the sauce.

  2. While the pasta cooks, preheat a large skillet or frying pan on medium heat. Add the diced bacon. Separate the pieces into a single layer using a spatula. Let the fat render and the bacon start to crisp – about 10 minutes.

    Bacon bits cooking in pan for Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce on stove. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!
  3. To the bacon, add the mushroom slices and spread out into a single layer. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the mushrooms have a nice sear on both sides. Add the edamame beans and garlic to the mushrooms and stir to combine.

    Mushroom slices and Bacon bits cooking in pan for Pasta with Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce on stove. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!
  4. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and add the half and half to deglaze the pan and scrape up any of the browned bits. Then add the ricotta cheese, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine the sauce. Add the pasta to the sauce (or sauce to the pasta) and toss to combine. Add in 1/4 of the reserved pasta water to the pasta and toss again. Transfer to a serving platter or plates and garnish with fresh parsley.

    Spatula mixing Ricotta, Bacon, Mushroom Sauce in pan on stove. It's creamy, rich, decadent, comforting, and downright delicious!