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.

Simple Weeknight Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake

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Spoon scooping Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake with potato chips on top. It's a comfy cozy casserole that's perfect to make ahead for a simple weeknight side or main dish.

I love casseroles.  And one of my favorite combos is broccoli and cheese.  Usually, it’s made with rice, but today I have a healthier version that’s made with Quinoa!  Get ready for a comfy and cozy Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake that’s a simple side or main dish any weeknight!

This recipe comes together easily and gives the most amazing flavor.  The quinoa is hearty, creamy, and flavorful, but also super healthy, loaded with fiber and protein! The broccoli brings color, vitamins, and texture. The cheese, well, it’s creamy and delicious! You can make this casserole entirely ahead and reheat any busy night! It’s a balanced meal on it’s own, but you can add chicken, meatballs, or any other easy meat that your family loves.

Quinoa!  

Quinoa is a great side on it’s own or ingredient to bulk up other foods, such as stuffings.  It can replace pasta or rice in most recipes and adds more protein and fiber.

It’s actually a seed, not a grain, but the texture is similar to a grain or even a couscous, but a little more fluffy.  It has a mild, slightly nutty taste, but it’s mild, so it really absorbs any flavors you mix with it. 

But the really magic of quinoa is in the health benefits!  1 cup of cooked quinoa has 8g of complete protein and 5g of fiber.  It also has Iron, Manganese, Lysine, and magnesium!  

Combining quinoa with veggies gives you a complete balanced meal with vitamins, fiber, protein, and other nutrients.

Try these other easy and delicious Quinoa Recipes!

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 :).  But, 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

For this recipe, you need a medium pot with fitted lid for the quinoa, a medium pot for the sauce, and a large (5-6 quart) casserole dish.

Oh, and mincing garlic is made super easy with a Garlic Press.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS FOR YOUR BROCCOLI CHEESE QUINOA BAKE

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are the steps you prepare in the day(s) in advance and store in the fridge as your meal Kit… (See the recipe below for more details)

This recipe starts with pre-cooking your quinoa.  I do this because it makes the baking part foolproof!  You will never have to worry if the quinoa is cooked fully in the oven because it was pretty much there when you added it.  One of the benefits of quinoa is that it can absorb a lot and maintains it’s integrity. 

Cooked quinoa in pot.

While the quinoa cooks, you can prep the rest of the ingredients…cut off the broccoli florets (if not already done) and mince the garlic.

Ok, and here comes the somewhat strange ingredients.  By the way, this is totally optional, but adds really fun delicious flavor.  

POTATO CHIPS!!  

My Mom used to put crushed potato chips on top of casseroles and I just felt the urge to add it to this one.  So, just toss some chips in a baggie and crush away to get them to small pieces.  Or, leave them out if you want.  They are not needed, so it’s your choice.

COOK YOUR BROCCOLI CHEESE QUINOA BAKE 

Cooking for this recipe starts on the stove and then moves to the oven.  

On the stove, in a medium to large pot, add the vegetable broth and minced garlic. Bring to a simmer on Medium-High heat. While it is heating, make your slurry by mixing the cornstarch into cold milk.  When the broth is simmering, whisk in the milk slurry.  Continue to whisk as it starts to thicken so no clumps form on the bottom.

Garlic and Broth in pot for Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake It's a comfy cozy casserole that's perfect to make ahead for a simple weeknight side or main dish.  Cornstarch and Milk slurry in measuring cup for Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake It's a comfy cozy casserole that's perfect to make ahead for a simple weeknight side or main dish.

Pouring milk slurry into pot for Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake It's a comfy cozy casserole that's perfect to make ahead for a simple weeknight side or main dish.

Once thickened, whisk in the shredded cheese. Stir until melted and smooth. Then turn off the heat. 

To a casserole dish, Add the broccoli florets, cooked quinoa, cheese sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to completely combine. Place in the preheated oven on center rack and bake for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, add the crushed potato chips to the top of the casserole and place back in the oven for the final 5 minutes. The remove and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake in a bowl with potato chips on top. It's a comfy cozy casserole that's perfect to make ahead for a simple weeknight side or main dish.

Simple Weeknight Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake

This Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Bake is a comfy cozy casserole that's perfect to make ahead for a simple weeknight side or main dish. The quinoa is hearty, creamy, and flavorful, but also super healthy, loaded with fiber and protein! The broccoli brings color, vitamins, and texture. The cheese, well, it's creamy and delicious! You can make this casserole entirely ahead and reheat any busy night! It's a balanced meal on it's own, but you can add chicken, meatballs, or any other easy meat that your family loves. #casseroles #broccolirecipes #vegetarian #meatlessmeals #broccolicheesebake

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword broccoli, casserole, cheese, quinoa
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Carrie Tyler

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Quinoa, uncooked
  • 4 cups Broccoli florets
  • 2 cups Shredded Cheddar
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 4 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Optional Topping: Crushed potato chips

Instructions

Prep Ahead Steps

  1. Pre-Cook Quinoa. Start by rinsing the quinoa thoroughly in a strainer, then adding it to 4 cups water in a medium pot with a fitted lid. Bring the water to a simmer, then turn it down to the lowest setting and cover tightly. Cook on lowest heat covered for 15 minutes. While the quinoa cooks, continue to prep.

  2. Cut off the broccoli florets if not already done for you. Mince the garlic. Place potato chips in a baggie and lightly crush to break them up into small pieces.

Cook

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

  2. To a Medium-Large pot, add the vegetable broth and minced garlic. Bring to a simmer on Medium-High heat. While it is heating, make your slurry by mixing the cornstarch into cold milk.

  3. When the broth is simmering, whisk in the milk slurry. Continue to whisk as it starts to thicken so no clumps form on the bottom.

  4. Once thickened, whisk in the shredded cheese. Stir until melted and smooth. Then turn off the heat.

  5. To a 10" x 10" or similar size casserole dish, Add the broccoli florets, cooked quinoa, cheese sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to completely combine. Place in the preheated oven on center rack and bake for 15 minutes.

  6. After 15 minutes, add the crushed potato chips to the top of the casserole and place back in the oven for the final 5 minutes. The remove and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!