I forget what’s in my fridge. Do you? I’m great at eating leftover dishes for lunches and dinners, but leftover ingredients often get forgotten. Rediscovering these lost treasures either results in pangs of guilt over how soon it might become food waste or instead sparks an idea for how it could lead a new life in a new recipe. For example, recently I was confronted with a lonely little container of leftover cooked barley. Each time I opened the fridge door and saw it I pondered how best to use it up.
So, on a slightly chilly Thursday morning, as I was surveying the kitchen in search of breakfast, I grabbed the barley and tried to dress it up. Cooked oatmeal has never been appealing to me because of the mush factor, but this chewy whole grain made a sweet, hearty, high-fiber start to my morning when I stirred in the crunch of sliced almonds and toasted coconut.
– What is pearl barley? It’s barley that’s been processed a little more than whole grain barley which is processed a little less. (The names are deceiving because they’re both technically whole grain foods.) Pearl barley is more widely available and cooks in less time. They both have health benefits.
– This recipe is vegan? You probably wouldn’t think of it that way, but all of the ingredients in this recipe are plant-based, so officially it’s vegan. It is adaptable, though, to any milk you might have on hand, like almond or regular cow’s milk.
– Do I need to use large flake coconut? No, but I especially like the texture it adds to this recipe. If you have regular shredded coconut, that would work, too and you’d get the same tropical flavor.
– Can I use regular brown sugar? Of course. I just happened to have dark brown in my pantry so that’s what I used.
– Do I have to toast the almonds and coconut? No. I do it to add a depth of flavor to the cereal since cooked grains on their own can be bland. (See the recipe notes for toasting instructions.) But if you’re pressed for time, it will still be a delicious breakfast if you throw the nuts and coconut in raw.
– What if I don’t have any leftover cooked barley? See the recipe notes for easy instructions on cooking some up. Or use another cooked grain that you have on hand in place of the barley, like brown rice, quinoa, or steel-cut oats.
Do you have a favorite way to use up leftover cooked grains?