Vegetarian barley pilaf tossed with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, green peas and a mint pesto, ready in about 30 minutes, and perfect for a weeknight dinner.Jump to Recipe
Want to make this recipe perfectly the first time? I want to help with that. So, check out this Table of Contents to see which sections of this post will help you the most.
In spring, comfort food still tugs at me, but I'm also drawn to the spring veggies that show up in the market. This fava bean pasta recipe is a perfect example of what I most crave, and this barley pilaf tossed with spring produce.
🧅 Main Ingredients + Notes
The secret to faster and easier meals often lies in the ingredients. For example, store-bought items and ingredients you make ahead and store in the refrigerator (or freezer) can turn a 60-minute recipe into a 30-minutes meal or less.
For the all of the ingredients, measurements and directions, go to the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post.
- Pearled barley grain - pearled barley cooks faster and is much easier to find than unhulled barley.
- Vegetable broth - or Better Than Bouillon. This is optional instead of water for cooking the barley. Vegetable broth (or the Bouillon) infuses additional flavor into the barley.
- Artichoke hearts - I use marinated artichoke hearts, drained.
- Green peas - frozen green peas is the way to go on this.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Pesto - I make a mint pesto (recipe included below), but my lemony basil pesto also works well, made with a vegan Parmesan-style cheese.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and foods I use in my kitchen. This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. To view my entire storefront of recommended kitchen tools and equipment, check out my shop on Amazon.
📝 Instructions Overview
Detailed instructions for making this barley pilaf with artichokes are in the recipe card below, but here's an overview!
Sauté. Sauté the artichokes and peas in a medium skillet until the artichokes are very warm and the peas are tender. Add the tomatoes and sauté for another few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Make the Mint Pesto. Combine all of the ingredients for the pesto in the bowl of a mini chopper or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to coarsely chop. Drizzle the olive oil through the shoot while pulsing. If using a mini-chopper, add half of the olive oil, pulse several times, add the remaining olive oil, and pulse until you have a sauce-like consistency!
Toss it all together. Toss the sautéed veggies with the barley with your preferred amount of pesto. Sprinkle with olive oil and sherry wine vinegar and gently toss.
Serve. Serve warm with some grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
⏰ Tips to Simplify and Save Time
- You can purchase baby artichokes, trim and boil them in water to get them tender if that's your thing (I've done it, so no judging here!), but using jarred marinated artichokes is much easier. And the leaves are softer.
- If your market has fresh green peas, you can use them. You'll have to shell them, but they barely need any cooking.
- If you have barley already cooked in your refrigerator or freezer, this saves a lot of time, since this is where most of the time is invested. Alternatively, your market may carry frozen, pre-cooked barley that just requires a little steaming.
- Use a store bought pesto.
💡Ideas for Possible Variations
- Swap out barley for farro or brown rice. Check this post out for the best way to get fluffy rice. It includes the best kind of rice to use, and the best water to rice ratio, and how long to cook. And it has 6 tips for your best result.
- Substitute asparagus for artichoke hearts.
🥬 Keep it Vegan
Use a plant-based Parmesan cheese.
Don't have time to run to the grocery store? Order the ingredients for this recipe using Instacart (affiliate link). Just click on the Instacart button in the recipe card below, and the ingredients will all be organized for you on their site. Plug in your zip code, choose the store you prefer, and select the ingredients you want delivered to your home.
Barley Pilaf with Artichokes, Peas and Mint Pesto
- 1 cup pearled barley grain
- 3 cups vegetable broth or water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 12 marinated artichokes in a jar
- ½ cup frozen green peas
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- Mint Pesto recipe below
- ½ cup mint leaves well packed
- ½ cup Italian parsley well packed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or vegan Parmesan-style cheese
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil or enough to create the consistency you like
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese or vegan Parmesan-style cheese optional
- Cook the barley. Rinse the barley, and bring the vegetable broth to a simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and add the barley grain. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Pro-tip: Check out this post on how to cook barley for detailed instructions.
- Sauté. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet, and add the marinated artichoke hearts and frozen peas. Sauté until the artichokes are hot and the peas are tender. Add the tomatoes and sauté for another few minutes.
- Make the Mint Pesto. Add all of the ingredients except the olive oil to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a mini chopper. Pulse several times to chop the herbs and pine nuts. Drizzle the olive oil through the shoot while whirling the blade like crazy. If using a mini-chopper, add half of the olive oil, pulse several times, add the remaining olive oil, pulse until you have pesto!
- Toss. Combine the artichokes, peas, and tomatoes with the barley, and add the amount of pesto desired. Sprinkle with the remaining olive oil and sherry wine vinegar, and gently toss.
- Serve. Serve warm with optional Parmesan cheese on the side.