Herby Barley Bowl with Mushrooms, Kale, & Bacon

barley bowl

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You know when you’re in the mood for something cozy and comforting like a heated food blanket for your stomach? This barley bowl is it. It’s packed with savory flavors, just enough bacon & cheese to getcha goin’, and nourishing, cozy barley and beans. And kale, guys, for health.

I always have a huge bag of hulled barley in my cupboard because it is my FAVORITE grain. It’s so hearty and healthy while also satisfying that need-carbs feeling. I always choose hulled barley over pearled barley because it’s more nutritious, but you could definitely used pearled barley as well.

The BEST thing about this dish is that you can modify it any way you want. I’ve made it with broccoli instead of mushrooms, cheddar instead of parm, chicken sausage instead of bacon, whatevs. But this recipe here is my favorite combo. One time, my huz even CHOSE to eat these leftovers instead of a delicious Shake Shack bacon cheeseburger. That’s how good it is.

Sexy Bacon

Uh oh… a sexy picture of bacon?!? How did that get here? Is it working for you? Does it make you want to make this barley bowl RIGHT NOW, sneaking an extra slice of bacon into your mouth on the way? Well, it does that to me. You can make the bacon however you want but I like mine nice and crispy.

Don’t forget the splash of red wine vinegar & lemon juice! Haven’t you seen Salt Fat Acid Heat?? You need that acidity to brighten the dish and give it a lil zip. And of course a healthy sprinkling of parmesan on top. Feel free to garnish with extra fresh thyme & rosemary as well!

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barley bowl

Herby Barley Bowl with Mushrooms, Kale, & Bacon

  • Author: Megan B-L
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree


Herby barley bowl with shiitake mushrooms, bacon, caramelized onions, kale, white beans, fresh herbs, topped with parmesan.


  • 1.5 cups uncooked hulled barley
  • 4.5 cups beef broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 16 oz shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch kale
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 115 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained
  • 5 ounces shredded parmesan
  • salt & pepper


  1. Rinse barley. Add barley, beef broth, thyme, rosemary, and red pepper flakes to a pot. Bring to a boil on high heat, then lower to a simmer and cover for 40 minutes. 
  2. In a sauté pan, cook the bacon. Meanwhile, cut onion in half length-wise, then slice. Roughly slice mushrooms.
  3. When bacon is finished, move slices to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 3 tablespoons bacon grease in the pan, discard the rest.
  4. With the pan on medium-low heat, add the sliced onions and mushrooms. Salt and pepper them. Sauté for about 20 minutes, turning the heat down if they are browning up too much.
  5. At the end of the 20 minutes or until onions & mushrooms are caramelized to your liking, add minced garlic and red wine vinegar, stir for about a minute, then turn off heat.
  6. Chop up the bacon, strip, wash, & chop kale, and drain that can o’ beans!
  7. Mix everything together, removing herb sprigs from barley and adding the juice of 1/2 lemon, most of the parmesan, and salt & pepper to taste. 
  8. Serve with extra parmesan on top! 


  • The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products that could help you make this recipe! 
  • If using pearled barley, check doneness after 20 minutes instead of 40. 
  • Want this to be vegetarian? Easy. Get rid of the bacon. Vegan?? Use veggie broth, no bacon, no parm. It will still be super yummy. 
  • This recipe is so easy to modify to your preferences. I have made it with all kinds of different veggie subs like broccoli or cauliflower, and different meats too like sausage or ground beef. You really can’t go wrong! 

Keywords: barley, mushrooms, onions, kale, bacon, parmesan


  • Virginia
    February 9, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    I made this dish tonight for myself and my mom! IT WAS SO DELICIOUS!! I am a beginner in the kitchen and I was able to make this and it was even FUN! I’m not a big vegetable person- the kale basically disappears in the cozy beany cheesy bacony mushroom vibes. I subbed rice for barley (to make it gluten free!) and it worked great! 10/10

    • Megan B-L
      February 12, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      HOORAY Virginia!!! Love your description—cozy beany cheesy bacony mushroom vibes is accurate. Thanks for trying it out!!! <3


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