Green Grains Casserole

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Green Grains CasseroleWhen I was a kid, I loved watching Popeye. Though it took me years to find an equal love for spinach, I always kept in the back of my mind that this magical green was good for my biceps and that olive oil, er, Olive Oyl was to be cherished at all cost! Take that, Bluto! Here, the green machine meets its match, barley. Barley is used to make beer. So, if you think about it, eating this is like sharing a cold one with Popeye. Or, maybe that’s just me. It’s delicious, and rather healthy.

  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes


  • 2 cups pearled barley, uncooked
  • 4 cups water, boiling
  • 2½ tsp salt, divided
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1½ lb baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Sour cream for serving
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a baking dish, mix barley, boiling water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and coolest aside.
  3. Place a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the spinach in batches until it all wilts. Add garlic and jalapeño and continue to sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4-6 additional minutes.
  4. In a blender, combine half of the skillet contents with cream, pepper, cheese, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Purée until smooth. Add the eggs and purée once again. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked barley, puréed blender mixture, the remainder of the skillet contents and cilantro.
  5. Coat the bottom and sides of a baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Scrape the mixing bowl contents into the baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until the top begins to turn brown.
  6. Remove the casserole from the oven and serve hot scoops. You may wish to serve it topped with sour cream!

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