California Barley Bowl Recipe

I made this Megan Gordon's beautiful California Barley Bowl for a family brunch last week. From her inspiring new cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings.

California Barley Bowl

I mentioned in a recent favorites list that I've been cooking from Megan Gordon's new cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings. I met Megan a few years ago when she was sampling granola in front of my favorite local market. We continued to crossed paths over the years, and although she no longer calls Northern California her home base, I'm happy to call Megan a friend. Seattle, you're lucky to have her, and any of you shopping at the Ballard Farmers' Market, please extend a warm hello for me. I'll refrain from diving into a full-on book review here, but I will say I've loved Megan's smart-but-relaxed approach to cooking and recipes from go. And, when my entire family came to the house for brunch last week, I was excited to include her California Barley Bowl as part of the spread. It's a crowd-pleaser, I wanted to eat it, and I knew my mom would love it. All around, an easy call. It's the sort of thing you can do most of the prep ahead of time - plump barley grains tossed with sprouts (or greens), nuts, avocado, a bit of cheese - all dolloped with a simple yogurt sauce. I did a 4X batch reflected below - good for a crowd, and any leftovers are A+....

California Barley Bowl

Above, the quiet moments before the chaos.

California Barley BowlCalifornia Barley Bowl

Anytime Jack comes over, we make big waffles. Waffles for dinner are his favorite, but waffles for brunch are acceptable as well. Also on the menu that morning - cast-iron, family-style frittata, and a range of sparkling beverages. Below - at work drawing a rat, and a baby skunk.

California Barley Bowl

I cooked a huge pot of barley while I was at it. Enough for the recipe du jour, and enough to bag and freeze for use in the coming days (and weeks). Just make sure the grains are well-cooked and well-drained if you have any residual cooking water. Cool in the refrigerator, and double bag before placing in the freezer. It's the sort of thing I grab for when I'm looking to pull together a quick stew, or twist on fried-rice, or onigiri type preparation.

California Barley BowlCalifornia Barley Bowl

Thank you Megan for the wonderful addition to our family brunch. Huge congratulations on the book, and I can't wait to share another meal with you and Sam again soon! Nor-cal represent. xo -h

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California Barley Bowl

As Megan mentions, this bowl can be equally good with other grains - farro or quinoa, in particular. The recipe below is an adaptation of hers scaled for a small crowd. And because I had a sampling of other nuts and seeds onhand, I supplemented the almonds with those - pepitas and walnuts.

6 cups cooked barley
4 cups arugula or bean sprouts
6 ounces cotija, queso fresco, or ricotta salata cheese
1 cup toasted almonds, or a mix of seeds/nuts
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste

2 cups plain yogurt
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup of chives, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 ripe avocados, thinly sliced

In a large bowl combine the barley, arugula, cheese, almonds, and salt together. Mix well. You might need more or less salt depending on the saltiness of your cheese.

Make a quick yogurt sauce by whisking the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon, juice, chives, and salt in a small bowl. You can refrigerate this (or any leftovers) for a few days, if needed. If the sauce begins to separate, just give it a good stir before using.

Serve topped with avocado, chives, and big dollops of yogurt sauce. I used about half to top the main bowl, and served the rest on the side.

Enough for a small crowd.

Adapted from Megan Gordon's Whole Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons, published by Ten Speed Press, 2014

Prep time: 15 minutes - Cook time: 45 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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This looks amazing! Although, now it has made me super hungry.


Great recipe! I will most certainly try this one, thank you!

Madelein - mother to three boys and three girls

That looks so delicious! Your recipes are making it a mite easier to stick to my January resolutions.


Looks delicious! I might have to try a quinoa version this weekend!

Catherine @ Chocolate & Vegetables

Hey, what book is Jack copying from to draw his rat?

HS: Hi Rob - it's one of these.


Looks so yummy! I envy your west coast avocados! I can't tell you how often I stand in the asian markets in ny feeling for the best avocados right now : ) Did you use a go-to waffle recipe here, too?

HS: I do! But I've been working on it for a looong time - have yet to write it up though.

salvegging @

The recipe looks delicious! I have a question about what Jack is working on. That book on drawing looks awesome and like something my son would love to have. Is there any chance you know the name of it?

HS: Here you go Barbara.


Such a lovely idea, gotta try this one! I wonder how you managed to slice the avocado so thinly?


I want to try this recipe using quinoa (my fave grain, although technically not a grain!) and ricotta salata cheese. And Jack is quite the gourmet, waffles for dinner? That boy knows how to live a good life!

HS: Indeed Mike!


Sounds just perfect. I could really eat that salad for brunch. Actually, I will eat it next weekend, as I have all the ingredients at home :)

Ondina Maria

I'm so excited about this book! I haven't seen one recipe in it that I'm not desperate to make; this sounds like a total crowd-pleaser.


I read such a nice recommendations about this book that it's definitely on a list to buy.

Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

The thinly sliced avocados on top are so beautiful, what a great way to get your whole grain!

Sarah Toasty

Perfect! It's a heat wave down here in melbourne (Australia) and I'm looking for no cook dinners for this week and as I have frozen cooked farro in the freezer I think this one looks like a winner! Thanks again Heidi x

Liberty Browne

I cannot wait to try this. I love barley, and I love eating yogurt with savory food. Thanks for sharing!


I love barley, but have to admit to having never used it in a salad. This salad looks like a perfect introduction. Thank you for introducing me to Megan's book too. I just downloaded a copy on my kindle and can't wait to devour it as I'm really keen to add more whole grains to my diet.

Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday

Wow that salad is beautiful. What perfect timing, I'm going to a pot luck tomorrow night and am supposed to bring salad! I can't wait to make this. xx Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

I do love barley! This sounds like a perfect feel-good meal to have.


This is the exact kind of salad I need after all the indulging this holiday season. Perfection!

dishing up the dirt

Wow what a lovely salad to look at. I use a lot of boiled pearl barley, just out of the freezer too. Love the texture and the way it blends with other flavours. Trying this salad very soon. Thanks for sharing.

sangeeta khanna

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