Pearl barley with root vegetables

Korngryn och rotsaker

Pearl barley with roast vegetable

Pearl barley is a traditional food in Östergötland. Indeed, Östergötlanders claim that pearl barley is their “answer” to couscous or bulgar wheat!

The cover of Östgötamat by Inga Wallenquist

This recipe is adapted from Östgötamat by Inga Wallenquist and Östergötlands Länsmuseum. As the cover of the book shows, root vegetables were traditionally a staple food in Östergötland and throughout Sweden. Inga says that "crispy fried pearl barley with roasted root vegetables is a delicacy well worth trying". I think she is quite right and so I hope you try it soon! John Duxbury


Recipe summary for pearl barley with roast vegetables


• Although not a traditional Swedish vegetable, I think some red and yellow peppers make a good addition to the vegetable mixture.

Pearl barley and root vegetables with roast lamb

• This dish goes particularly well with lammstek med timja-rödvinsås (roast lamb with a red wine sauce).
• Pearl barley with roasted vegetables is really good when served cold as a salad dish which has been tossed in some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
• I have stuck to the original recipe here and only used ½ teaspoon of rosemary leaves, but when I make it for myself I add more rosemary.
• The vegetables can be cooked in an oven at 180°C (360°F, gas 4, fan 160°C), instead of being fried, if you haven't got a large frying pan or wok (see stages 3 and 4).  


100 g (½ cup) pearl barley
500 ml (2 cups) water
    salt to taste
450 g (3 cups) vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, leeks, red onion and celery, cut into chunks
1 tbsp   olive oil
1 tbsp   butter
2-3   garlic cloves, sliced
½ tsp   rosemary leaves, finely chopped
    salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp   freshly chopped parsely, to garnish


1. Rinse the pearl barley thoroughly then add it a saucepan. Add the water and a little salt. Bring to the boil without a lid and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 25 minutes with a lid on.

2. When the pearl barley is cooked, pour it into a sieve, rinse in cold water and then leave to drain.

A try of roots vegetables, celery, red onion and herbs

3. Whilst the pearl barley is simmering, prepare the vegetables and then heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan or wok. Fry the sliced ​​garlic and rosemary, add the vegetables and continue cooking for 15 minutes or so.

4. Tip in the drained pearl barley and continue cooking until a nice golden colour.

5. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, garnish with parsley (optional) and serve warm as a side dish or cold with a dressing as a salad.


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