Whole grain, fiber-rich pearl barley cooks quickly in your Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker. Savory Instant Pot Barley is a healthy breakfast that requires only a few ingredients, and will fire up your "engine" for the busy day ahead! Fresh greens, diced turkey ham, and an egg (your choice) add loads of flavor and nutrition...
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - the Importance of a Healthy Breakfast
How do you start your day? Coffee and ______________ (fill in the blank). My preference is a savory breakfast that includes both complex carbs and lean protein. This was a process for me...
I grew up with cereal, milk, toast, and juice on school days, and a "big" breakfast on Saturday morning. Our "big" breakfast typically included pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc., and eggs and/or breakfast meat (sausage, ham, bacon). I cringe now at the thought of the fats and calories, but it has never occurred to me to skip breakfast.
Eating a healthy breakfast is linked to many health benefits (I'm not talkin' about donuts, okay?):
- A nutritious breakfast improves concentration and performance on the job or in the classroom.
- It provides the fuel necessary for physical activity (i.e. exercise people)!
- There is evidence that a healthy breakfast results in better weight management, although studies don't show conclusively any cause-effect relationship.
It is difficult to work up enthusiasm for breakfast if you're reaching for the same old thing every day, right? I finally realized that cutting way back on sugar, and sticking to complex carbohydrates helped me stick to a reasonable "diet." I feel better able to face the day with some type of grain, and some protein. I rarely crave sugar anymore, and when I do, that craving is satisfied with a square of dark chocolate. 😀
🍳 What Constitutes a Healthy Breakfast?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy breakfast can include:
- Whole grains. Examples include whole-grain rolls and bagels, hot or cold whole-grain cereals, whole-grain English muffins, and whole-grain waffles.
- Lean protein. Examples include eggs, lean meat, legumes and nuts.
- Low-fat dairy. Examples include milk, plain or lower sugar yogurts, and low-fat cheeses, such as cottage cheese and natural cheeses.
- Fruits and vegetables. Examples include fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, 100 percent juice drinks without added sugar, and fruit and vegetable smoothies.
So, what does a healthy breakfast look like at Andersen casa? Prior to the creation of this new recipe for Savory Instant Pot Barley, my favorite breakfast was Green Chile Savory Oatmeal With An Egg. Healthy, savory breakfasts win hands down at Andersen casa!
I love to make grab n' go breakfasts like my South-of-the-Border Frittata Muffins and my Mediterranean Rice and Chick Pea Mini-Frittatas. They both keep well in the refrigerator, and re-heat well. They're even tasty cold or at room temperature. Another favorite is my Mexican Black Bean Shakshuka.
You may notice a theme? I love bold flavors and healthy ingredients! None of these recipes are very time-consuming.
🍚 About Barley
I love the texture and bite of hulled barley, but it takes well over an hour to cook on the stove. Pearl barley is available in "long," "medium," and short cook variets. Quick-cook barley, which is similar to quick cook oats, isn't all that great texture-wise, but I do like medium-cook barley. However, it still requires 45-50 minutes.
Barley just seemed a bit out of the question as a breakfast grain until I had an epiphany recently. Why not try using my Instant Pot/pressure cooker? I DID. AND IT WORKED!
Barley Guide (Approximate)
The 4 main types of barley (to my knowledge). For purposes of this recipe, I use hulled or pearl. I believe hull-less will work as well, but I am not sure as to the cooking time in a pressure cooker. Hull-less barley is a cultivar (has no hull) and is a true whole grain.
Lastly, I do not recommend medium or quick cook barley in the pressure cooker. The nutrition is reduced by refinement, and I believe it would be mushy. However, I have used the medium cook barley on the stove for this recipe with good results. The brand I use requires about 45-50 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup pearl or hulled barley
- ¼ cup red or sweet onion, finely chopped
- 4 cups liquid, I use half broth and half water
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 ounces turkey ham, small dice (optional)
- 4 ounces baby kale, or other baby greens
- 4 eggs, cooked to your preference
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
- Start the barley in the Instant Pot - Add the olive oil to the pressure cooker set to manual for 18 or 23 minutes (see table above). Add the barley and onion. Saute until it smells a bit toasty. Add the liquid and salt. Lock the lid in place.
- Prep the remaining ingredients - While the barley cooks, dice the ham (if using). Chop any fresh herbs and/or scallions.
- Release the pressure - When the pressure cooker completes the cooking cycle, do a quick pressure release for pearl barley, or a slow release for hulled barley. Check for doneness. We like firm rather than mushy. If you've got a lot of liquid in the pan, you may wish to drain most or all of it. Return the pot to saute, and add the diced ham if using. Saute stirring occasionally while preparing the eggs.
- Prepare the eggs - Prepare your eggs your favorite way. When the eggs are ready, add the greens to the pot, and stir to combine. You just want to wilt the greens.
- To Serve: Scoop the barley mixture into shallow bowls. Top with an egg cooked to your preference. Garnish as desired with Aleppo pepper (my favorite!), fresh ground pepper, fresh herbs, scallions, etc. Enjoy!
I cooked my pearl barley 18 minutes in the pressure cooker with half water and half broth. After a quick pressure release I added some fresh baby kale, small diced turkey ham, gave it a good stir on the sauté setting to heat the ham and wilt the greens, and topped it with a boiled egg (I was trying for runny, but hey, it's still good!). And just because I can, I finished it with Aleppo pepper (that gorgeous deep red) and my Peruvian sal de Maras.
💭 Tips and FAQ
I don't have an Instant Pot. Can I still make this recipe? YES! Follow package instructions for amount of liquid and cooking time. As I explained earlier, hulled, pearl, and medium-cook barley have a better texture, and the cooking times vary. Add the ham (if using) late in the cooking process, and the greens at the end of cooking time.
What if the barley is under-cooked? The desired texture of cooked barley is a personal preference. Cooking times vary by type and brand. See "About Barley" above for guidelines.
What other grains can I use? Any whole grain will work. Farro is a personal favorite. Follow instructions on the package for liquid amounts and cooking times. See this pressure cooking times chart for more information.
How can I change this recipe up? If you're still glued to a recipe, this is an easy one to practice customizing and making it your own! Substitute your favorite quick-cooking greens (arugula, baby spinach, micro greens). Vary the pre-cooked breakfast meat (crumbled bacon, prosciutto, crumbled turkey sausage), or make it vegetarian by adding tofu, chick peas, or lentils. Lastly, cook YOUR favorite egg, not mine.
What kind of garnishes can I use? You can TOTALLY CUSTOMIZE your barley with chopped scallions, fresh herbs, gourmet salt (or pepper 😀 ), even sliced avocado.
Can I make this vegetarian? YES. Use a combination of vegetable broth and water, and omit the ham. If you're concerned about protein (as I am), add some chick peas or other beans/legumes. You could also try cubed tofu, but I make no guarantees on that one!
What kind of greens can I use? On photo day, I used baby kale. Spinach, arugula, a blend of baby greens all work well!
The take away then? Having a tasty AND healthy breakfast is good for you! You need a variety of breakfast dishes to keep it interesting, and if you just have no time to cook, keep Greek yogurt and a healthy, low-sugar granola on hand.
That's all for now... Here's to healthy breakfasts!