Pearl barley, bacon & leek casserole

Pearl barley, bacon & leek casserole

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(54 ratings)

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 40 mins - 45 mins


Serves 4
This storecupboard grain makes a great alternative to rice or couscous. Team with bacon and veggies in this risotto-like stew

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal589
  • fat15g
  • saturates3g
  • carbs73g
  • sugars11g
  • fibre8g
  • protein43g
  • salt0.8g
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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 2 leeks, thickly sliced



    Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct…

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g pearl barley
  • 4 carrots, cubed



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, plus extra to serve
  • 1l chicken stock
  • 300g Savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 200g lean bacon joint, cooked, chopped into small pieces



    Bacon is pork that has been cured one of two ways: dry or wet. It can be bought as both rashers…


  1. Heat a large pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and cook the leeks for a few mins, then add the garlic and cook for just 1 min more.

  2. Add the pearl barley, carrots and mustard, then pour over the chicken stock. Season with plenty of ground black pepper and simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage with the bacon, and cook for 5-10 mins until cabbage is wilted and tender. Serve with extra Dijon mustard on the side.

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Comments, questions and tips

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10th Jul, 2020
I used a pearl barley "mix" with some dried lentils and peas in it too and boiled it for over 20 minutes before I even started cooking it in the pot. I also used a large gammon steak, cut into pieces, which I then fried off and added to the mix. Filling and tasty comfort food which we ate as a substantial soup with spoons!
9th Jul, 2020
Really disappointed. In whose world does pearl barley cook in 20 minutes. mines been on for an hour and Im still waiting.
2nd Feb, 2019
I made this with regular smoked bacon strips but otherwise kept all the same and I think this makes a fab, healthy and filling lunch or quick weeknight dinner - I think I might serve the leftovers as a side to a couple sausages, or next time I may add some more/different cured meat to give the dish a slightly stronger taste. But it is lovely, and you can add whatever veg you happen to have in the fridge :)
20th Sep, 2018
Delicious! Made a couple of tweaks. Used bacon medallions, ham stock and also added extra mustard so had a mix of Dijon and wholegrain. Also par-cooked the pearl barley and left it to soak while I prepped everything else. Then followed the recipe up to where the cabbage is added. Left it for a couple of hours and then 10 minutes before we wanted to eat I added the cabbage. Will definitely make this one again :D
7th Feb, 2018
An absolutely delicious meal for a cold, weekday evening. I pre-cooked the pearl barley for 20 minutes beforehand and added an additional tablespoon of wholegrain mustard whilst simmering. I also used streaky bacon instead which provided a lovely, salty flavour to the dish. My boyfriend had two helpings - so I'll certainly be cooking it again!
25th Aug, 2017
I was a a little underwhelmed by the taste. Fairly quick and easy for a midweek dinner, but nothing exciting nor would I rush to make this again.
22nd Jan, 2019
Me too!
30th Jul, 2017
Used left over roast beef and kale instead of bacon &cabbage - enjoyed by all.
jfowler12's picture
24th Jan, 2016
Nice and easy. Correct quantities in recipe. Nothing fancy, but a good, cheap mid-week eat.
19th Jan, 2015
We did this without bacon and replaced the cabbage with some green leafy vegs we already had. The dish was excellent and felt really meaty already without the bacon. I added a little more stock.


26th Oct, 2014
Would you be able to cook this in a slow cooker?
15th Feb, 2017
Have a few tips to improve this recipe. 1) Soak the barley in cold water for 1 hour before cooking. I find this helps the barley to cook quicker. 2) Cook the bacon first and then add the leeks etc, to make it a one pot dish! (Also i used regular smoked sliced smoke bacon for this dish and it worked really well) 3) Grate some cheese over the top when serving for extra flavour and richness.
2nd Feb, 2019
cheese is a good idea, I might top my leftovers with some cheddar/gruyere!
pickwickpapers's picture
16th May, 2015
I also found that the pearl barley needs longer to cook, and more liquid.
8th Mar, 2014
This recipe was put up as the second day use for a bacon joint, having used it in Braised bacon and colcannon cakes the day before. The recipe calls for 1lt of chicken stock. If you are using the bacon you braised the day before, the sensible thing would be to use the braising water instead of chicken stock.
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