Almond Milk and Barley Porridge

barley porridge

Feeling inspired by Monday’s post, I wanted to try and come up with a recipe that was a modern twist on an old-fashioned classic. What better recipe to try updating than porridge? It’s the eternal stodge food- cheap, filling, and around for years, it’s been a staple food item throughout history.

I wanted to fuse the old with the new and one of the newest food fads of the last few years is different wheats and grains. Spelt and rye flour are two varieties that have seen popularity rocket recently, thanks to artisan bakers, and grains like Quinoa have been the buzz foods of 2015. It was an easy marriage to make an updated porridge.

I took a trip to the Whole Foods section of my local supermarket (for ‘section’ read ‘basically one shelf’) and in a completely unplanned move, picked up a packet of pearled barley. I’d gone hunting for Quinoa originally in a bid to be the foodie hipster I’d always dreamed of being, but at over three pound a bag, that was a lifestyle choice I was not going to be able to fund. Next to it was pearled barley- a bargain at 56p.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I pretty much had no idea what to do with it. Apart from red lentils, I’ve never been a fan of grains and pulses and whatnot, and have barely cooked with them before.

So here’s the lowdown; barley is a popular cereal crop, used in the production of beer. It has many health benefits, including helping to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Pearled barley has the outer, inedible hull of the barley removed, and steamed to remove the bran, so that it is easier to cook and digest.

As for taste, this barley porridge is slightly chewer than regular oat porridge, with a more al dente bite, and tastes a bit like rice pudding (pudding for breakfast is always a good thing). It also doesn’t taste quite as stodgy as porridge can be, and the cinnamon adds a really nice flavour. The barley does take a bit longer to cook than regular oats, so this is a recipe for a lazy Sunday morning, and not one to whip up when you’ve got to leave for work in twenty minutes. But the result is definitely worth it. You could try pre-cooking the barley in water for thirty minutes (step one of the recipe below), then keeping it in an airtight container in the fridge and finishing it off in the milk for about ten minutes each morning if you want to cut down on cooking time.

I was rather proud of myself for this, and ate my barley porridge at the kitchen table feeling ridiculous healthy and smugly hip. It wasn’t until after I’d taken all the photos that I actually looked up barley for this and read that barley porridge was popular before they started using oats.

Great. I have essentially revamped a new recipe to make it old again. Precisely the opposite of what I had planned to do.

* * *

MAKES 1 bowl

PREP 30mins (to pre-cook barley)

COOK 10mins

▪ Best eaten on day of preparation


25g pearled barley

100ml water

100ml almond milk

2tsp maple syrup

½tsp ground cinnamon



1 Begin by pre-cooking the barley. Rinse the barley under the tap, then add to a pan along with the water. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir every so often to stop it sticking to the pan.

2 If there is any water left, drain this off, then set the barley to one side. Add the almond milk to the pan and bring to just below boiling, then add the pre-cooked barley. Simmer, stirring continuously, for about ten minutes or until the grains are soft and creamy.

3 Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and ground cinnamon, adjusting according to taste. ▪


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