Barley Apple Pilaf

May 16, 2013    BY John Kochevar

This is a savory, crunchy grain salad. It illustrates the combination of yin ingredients (barley, celery, apples) with yang foods (onion and garlic). With a vegetable side dish, recipe serves four.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (to sauté barley)
  • 1 cup lightly pearled barley
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup lentils (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (for sautéing lentils)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large, sweet apple, cored and diced
  • 3 green scallions, diced
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

Vinaigrette: 1 tablespoon vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

Barley has a tough hull and is “pearled” or polished to reduce the hull. Fully pearled barley is chalky white and is used mostly for soups. Here, use a barley that has been lightly pearled: It should be tan or light brown. This pilaf is best prepared in a 2-quart pot with a heavy bottom and a tight-fitting lid. 


  1. Sauté barley in pot using vegetable oil for 2 to 3 minutes until grains are well coated with oil. Bring 2 cups of lightly salted vegetable broth and bay leaves to simmer; add the sautéed barley, stir well, bring to simmer; cover tightly. Allow the barley to cook for 40 minutes over a flame tamer to keep the bottom from burning, or use the lowest electric burner setting. At end of cooking time: Check for doneness: It should be pleasantly chewy and ready to fluff. Set aside to cool.
  2. While barley cooks, sauté lentils in vegetable oil in another pan for 2 minutes (it keeps them from falling apart). Add salted water to cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until done, but not mushy. Drain well.
  3. While lentils are cooking, sauté the onions 4 to 5 minutes until they begin to brown. Salt lightly. Add garlic; sauté, stirring well, over low heat for 1 minute longer. (Do not let garlic brown for it becomes bitter.)
  4. Toast the pistachios lightly, chop, and set aside. Diced apple tends to turn brown when exposed to air; to preserve color, toss with a teaspoon of lemon juice mixed into a tablespoon of water.
  5. Mix together room-temperature barley, lentils, diced celery, apple, and scallions with vinaigrette; toss lightly. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve topped with chopped pistachios.
#salads Crystal Ketterhagen

John Kochevar
John J. Kochevar has contributed many articles on flavorful vegetarian cooking to Yoga International.