Barley Pilaf with Roasted Cauliflower

4.75 from 4 votes
45 minutes
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This barley pilaf recipe is the perfect elegant side or vegetarian main dish. It’s easy to make and goes with almost anything. Tender roasted cauliflower and delightfully chewy barley are tossed in a medley of sauteed aromatics and fresh herbs. Serve alongside Boneless Short Ribs or 40-Clove Garlic Chicken for a complete and delicious dinner!

Barley PIlaf with Roasted Cauliflower garnished with fresh parsley in serving bowl with serving spoon.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Pilafs are a great side dish because it’s a delicious way to add a hearty grain to a meal, and the flavors are simple enough to go with almost any main dish. This barley pilaf recipe with roasted cauliflower is a unique take on a classic pilaf that uses broth, various spices, and aromatics to infuse flavor into the grains. 

The caramelized bits from roasting the cauliflower add a lovely depth of flavor. Aromatics like onion, garlic, and carrots start the flavor party, and a red wine vinegar finish adds a touch of tanginess to lighten it all up. A handful of walnuts and parsley add crunchiness and freshness.

This Barley Pilaf recipe is:

  • Nutritious! Barley is packed with fiber, and this dish is full of other vegetables and fresh ingredients.
  • Delicious! Sauteed aromatics and chicken or vegetable broth infuse this dish with flavor.
  • Versatile! This barley pilaf recipe is easy to customize and make dairy-free or vegetarian. Simply use plant-based “butter” and vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth. Farro makes a great substitute for barley.
  • Stores well! Barley pilaf can even be enjoyed chilled as a salad later.
Barley PIlaf with Roasted Cauliflower garnished with fresh parsley in serving bowl with serving spoon.

How to Make Barley Pilaf with Roasted Cauliflower:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this barley pilaf recipe, along with instructions for preparing the ingredients. The recipe card below has the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Barley Pilaf with Roasted Cauliflower in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Cauliflower: This recipe uses one medium-sized cauliflower cut into florets. I use white cauliflower for this barley pilaf recipe, but any type will work.
  • Onion: I use yellow onion in this recipe, but a red or shallot or two will work.
  • Pearled Barley: Pearled barley had the outer layers of husk and bran removed. It is more refined than hulled barley and takes less cooking time. Pearled barley is the most common type of barley found in stores. For a gluten-free alternative, use short-grain brown rice or quinoa.
  • Broth: Use chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Fresh Thyme: Fresh thyme retains its flavor when used at the end and not cooked for too long, making it ideal for this dish. Dried thyme can also be used. However, you want to add it earlier in the cooking process so it has time to soften.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Red wine vinegar is made from fermented red wine. The hint of acid adds complexity to this nutty barley pilaf.
  • Walnuts: Pecans or hazelnuts make great substitutes. If a nut allergy exists, sunflower seeds would work well.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the barley and boil per package directions. NOTE: Different brands of barley will cook at different rates; follow package directions.
Cooked barley in glass bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Toss cauliflower with half the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  • Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly charred and tender.
  • While the cauliflower and barley cook, heat the butter and remaining olive oil in a skillet or saute pan.
  • Add the onion and cook for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add the carrot and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and carrot are softened, 4 to 5 more minutes.
  • Stir in thyme, chicken broth, and vinegar. Keep warm.
  • When the barley and cauliflower are cooked, add them to the skillet with the onion and carrot.
  • Add walnuts, adjust seasoning, and serve immediately, garnished with fresh parsley.
  • Done and delish! A wholesome, healthy barley side dish that goes with almost anything!
Barley PIlaf with Roasted Cauliflower garnished with fresh parsley in serving bowl with serving spoon.

Chef Tip:

  • If you are using hulled barley, which takes longer to cook than pearled barley, soak it in cold water for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This will soften the outer hull and reduce the cooking time.
Barley PIlaf with Roasted Cauliflower garnished with fresh parsley in serving bowl with serving spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is barley gluten-free?

No, it’s not, and neither is farro, a great barley substitute in this side dish. Short-grain brown rice and quinoa are perfect substitutes if you require a gluten-free option.

Can this Barley Pilaf with Roasted Cauliflower be made ahead of time?

Although the leftovers are still delicious, I would try to make this as close to serving time as possible. You can, however, get the barley cooked ahead of time. Let it sit at room temperature while roasting the cauliflower and cooking the aromatics.

Barley PIlaf with Roasted Cauliflower garnished with fresh parsley in serving bowl with serving spoon.

Storage:

  • Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. This barley pilaf is great when reheated or chilled as a barley cauliflower salad.

Serve with:

More great barley recipes you’ll love!

Get all my bean, grain, and rice side dish recipes at Bean, Grain and Rice Side Dishes – From A Chef’s Kitchen.

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Barley PIlaf with Roasted Cauliflower garnished with fresh parsley in serving bowl with serving spoon.

Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Pilaf

4.75 from 4 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
This barley pilaf recipe is the perfect elegant side or vegetarian main dish. It’s easy to make and goes with almost anything. Tender roasted cauliflower and delightfully chewy barley are tossed in a medley of sauteed aromatics and fresh herbs.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Side Dishes – Beans Rice and Grains
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 543 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium head cauliflower - cut into 1-inch florets (approximately 6 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil - divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled barley
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium onion - or 1 small onion, finely chopped (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 medium carrot - finely chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme - or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth - or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts - toasted if desired
  • Coarsely chopped fresh parsley - for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the barley and boil per package directions.*
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower with half the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  • Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until lightly charred and tender.
  • While cauliflower and barley are cooking, heat the butter and remaining olive oil in a skillet or saute pan.
  • Add the onion and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the carrot and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and carrot are softened, 4-5 more minutes.
  • Stir in thyme, chicken broth, and vinegar. Keep warm.
  • When barley and cauliflower are cooked, add them to skillet with the onion and carrot. Add walnuts, adjust seasoning and serve immediately garnished with fresh parsley.

Notes

*Different brands of barley cook at different rates so follow package directions closely.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 179mg | Potassium: 808mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2628IU | Vitamin C: 74mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 3mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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5 Comments

  1. I made this recently, using farro (what I had on-hand) instead of barley. I also added (leftover) roasted carrots. This dish was excellent!

    1. Hi, Kathy, Thanks so much and so glad you enjoyed!!! Love that you added the carrots to use up what you had. I’m all for that! Thanks again!