On Air
Open In Popup
MPR News

Appetites: Old grains are new again

Share story

Barley and cranberry pilaf with rosemary and orange.
Barley and Cranberry Pilaf With Rosemary and Orange.
Courtesy of Beth Dooley

If you've been trying to move meat off the center of your plate in favor of some more healthy alternatives, chef Beth Dooley has some suggestions.

Be on the lookout for these grains!

The following is courtesy of chef Beth Dooley.


• Barley: It's hip again. Look for hulled barley or barley groats, a whole grain form of barley whose outermost hull has been removed. It is tastier and more nutritious than pearl barley, whose husks and bran layers have been removed. Find it in bulk in the natural food co-ops.

• Oat Groats: It looks a bit like rice and cooks up almost like risotto. This is the grain that's rolled for oatmeal. It's terrifically nutritious, has more flavor than rice, and works well as a rice alternative in just about any dish.

• Emmer: An ancient strain of wheat, emmer is full of wheaty flavor and is fabulous in soups, stews and casseroles.

• Farro: Our farmers are growing farro and it's fabulous! Wheaty, nutty, and easy to cook, ready in just about 20 minutes.

• Buckwheat: wW're seeing local buckwheat returning to fields and tables. Buckwheat groats (aka kasha) are terrific with mushrooms.


• Chickpeas: We're the top producer of chickpeas in the country, though most end up in cans.

• Dried beans: The market is exploding with heirloom varieties with wonderful fanciful names like Ireland Creek Annie; Kenearly Yellow Eye, Turtle Beans, and of course Northern White, Kidney, etc. 

• Lentils: Yellow split peas (for soups) and green and red lentils for dal and sauces ... find local varieties at our co-ops.

Recipe: Barley and Cranberry Pilaf With Rosemary and Orange

Serves four (easily doubled).

Note: Cranberries add a nice tangy pop to the toasty barley. You can make this ahead and serve it warm or at room temperature — perfect for a holiday buffet. From Beth Dooley.


• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1 tbsp. vegetable or coconut oil

• 1 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock

• 1 cup hulled barley

• 1/2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary, or more to taste

• 1/2 cup fresh cranberries

• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

• 1 tsp. grated orange zest, or more to taste

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• 1 tsp. honey, to taste


In a large deep saucepan set over medium heat, saute the onion in the oil until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the stock, 3/4 cup water, barley and rosemary. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer until the barley is tender, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Remove the lid and gently stir in the rosemary and then the fresh cranberries, cover and allow the grain to rest and the cranberries to pop slightly.

Gently stir in the orange juice, orange zest, salt, pepper and honey. Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving.

Listen to Dooley's conversation with MPR News host Tom Crann by clicking the audio player above.