Herb Mushroom Barley

This Herb Mushroom Barley is made with simple ingredients, yet full of flavor and texture. It’s easy to prepare and makes for a great side dish.

If you’re looking for a little variety in the grains department, this barley side dish is a delicious choice.

Barley - Mixed with Mushrooms, Herbs, and Spinach

Barley has a pleasingly chewy texture and nutty flavor, and it’s extremely versatile.

I’ve made Barley Risotto, ditching the traditional arborio rice for a heartier texture, and I’ve also used barley in chilled dishes, like in this Tomato Cucumber Barley Salad.

Today this little grain is served as a warm salad of sorts, with mushrooms, spinach, plenty of fresh herbs, and a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic.

Barley Recipes - Side Dish with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Herbs

Because it holds well at room temperature, I’ll usually plan it as the side for a main dish that’s a bit more hands-on, like Seared Steak or Pan Seared Salmon.

I get this dish done first and set it on the table, and sear the main meat or fish quickly so it’s served hot when it’s ready.

And finally, you’ll notice that all the ingredients in this recipe are pretty simple, and yet it’s full of fresh flavor. A few vegetables and a few fresh herbs are all you need to really jazz up some pantry barley.

Mixed Herbs from the Garden - Basil, oregano, and Thyme

How to Cook Barley:

My favorite way to cook barley is to make it in the rice cooker, though you can cook it on the stove too if you don’t have a rice cooker. 

Rice cooker method: combine 1 cup of pearl barley with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt, and press start. It will cook automatically. This is the rice cooker I have (affiliate).

How to Cook Barley - Cooks Quickly in the Rice Cooker

Stovetop method: Simmer 1 cup of barley in 3 cups of water for 1.25 hours. These are the directions for Arrowhead Mills brand. I recommend following the directions on the package you purchase.

How to Make Herb Mushroom Barley Salad:

Start by cooking sliced baby bella mushrooms in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper:

Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms - Browning in a Ceramic Skillet

Cook the mushrooms until they are well browned, then add pressed garlic:

Browned Baby Bella Mushrooms with Fresh Garlic

Stir for a few seconds until fragrant, then add baby spinach and wilt:

Wilted Spinach, Mushrooms, and Garlic for tossing with Barley Grain

In a large mixing bowl, combine the barley, mushroom spinach mixture, fresh basil, fresh oregano, and fresh thyme, plus olive oil and balsamic vinegar:

Barley Salad - Tossed with Olive Oil, Vegetables, and Fresh Herbs

Toss well to combine, and season to taste:

Cooking Barley - Until Tender, and Mixed with Wilted Spinach and Mushrooms

I usually add a little more salt and pepper. I recommend serving the barley warm or at room temperature.

Pearl Barley - With Baby Bella Mushrooms, Basil, Oregano, and Thyme

TabboulehRice Pilaf, and Caprese Pasta Salad are some of my other favorite starchy side dish recipes.

For vegetable side dishes, I love Roasted Brussel SproutsColeslaw, and Charred Broccoli. Enjoy!

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5 from 1 vote

Herb Mushroom Barley

This Herb Mushroom Barley is made with simple ingredients, yet full of flavor and texture. It's easy to prepare and makes for a great side dish.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword barley, mushroom barley
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 333.59kcal
Author Joanne Ozug fifteenspatulas.com


  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms sliced
  • 7 cloves garlic (1 tbsp, pressed)
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1-2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar *
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped**
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano chopped**
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme (1 tsp stripped leaves)
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper


  • Start by cooking the barley. I find it easiest to cook it in the rice cooker: combine 1 cup of barley with 2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of salt. Press the start button, and let it do its thing. It usually takes about 30 minutes. If you don't have a rice cooker, there should be instructions on the package for how to cook it on the stove.***
  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium high heat, then add the mushrooms. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp black pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes, until browned.
  • Add the garlic and spinach, and cook for about 2 more minutes, until the spinach is wilted.
  • When the barley has finished cooking, place it in a large mixing bowl and add the mushroom mixture.
  • Add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1 or 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar (see notes), and all the herbs. Toss well, and taste for final seasoning adjustments. I'll usually add a touch more salt (about 1/4 tsp) and a few more cracks of black pepper. Enjoy!


*If you use 1 tbsp of balsamic, it's a nice accent flavor but not overbearing. If you use 2 tbsp, it turns it more into a "warm salad" in flavor. I like 2 tbsp personally, but feel free to add whatever amount you like, to taste.
**The basil and oregano are both loosely packed amounts, then chopped.
***The pearled barley I purchase says you can simmer 1 cup of barley in 3 cups of water for 1.25 hours, to cook it. I recommend following the directions on the package you purchase.


Calories: 333.59kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.41g | Protein: 7.87g | Fat: 14.84g | Saturated Fat: 2.1g | Sodium: 38.19mg | Potassium: 621.94mg | Fiber: 9.24g | Sugar: 2.18g | Vitamin A: 3473.32IU | Vitamin C: 14.27mg | Calcium: 78.02mg | Iron: 2.92mg