Pearl Barley Stew with Lemon and Squash

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A lemony pearl barley stew made in the slow cooker – perfect comfort food.

Pearl barley stew with cheese

I’ve never been much of a spring person. I love Easter, and spring flowers. I’m always itching to get back in the garden, and love spring country walks with gambolling lambs. However, as I’m preparing my Easter dinner to the sound of hail, thunder and lightning, I can’t help feeling I made a good choice – we’re having Lamb and Lentil Stew with Herby Dumplings. March is definitely still the time of year for comfort food.

Our annual Easter Saturday grand day out has in times past been an ambitious hike – this year, with a toddler in tow, it was a stroll around Brodsworth Hall and Gardens (yes, an indoor option was preferable for weather reasons….). Our other Easter Saturday tradition is a slow cooker full of yummy vegetarian food to welcome us home – it never feels right to eat meat on the final day of Lent, after the solemnity of Good Friday.

Pearl Barley Stew Vertical

This year I decided to capitalise on pearl barley – a perfect slow cooker food as it takes a long time to become tender. Chuck it in the slow cooker and it is meltingly perfect after eight hours. I’ve usually eaten it to bulk out lamb stews, but this time I paired it with another perfect flavour match – lemon.

This smooth, sweet stew was perfectly complemented by the salty tang of grated cheese. If you’re vegan, try topping it with salted nuts. If you want it soupy add more water.

Yields 4

Pearl Barley Stew with Lemon and Squash

20 minPrep Time

8 minCook Time

28 minTotal Time

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  • 2 butternut squash
  • 2 onions
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1 desertspoon each of ground ginger and cumin and garlic granules
  • 8oz pearl barley
  • The juice of 2 lemons


  1. Halve the squashes. Scoop out the seeds and cut the peel off. Cut them into small chunks and place in the slow cooker.
  2. Peel and dice the onions and parsnip and add them to the slow cooker.
  3. Juice the lemons and mix the juice in, along with the spices and pearl barley.
  4. Boil the kettle and add the water so the ingredients are well covered. Aim for a centimetre above the food for a risotto-thickness stew, more water for a soupier consistency.
  5. Cook on low for at least eight hours.
Cuisine: British | Recipe Type: Dinner


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2 thoughts on “Pearl Barley Stew with Lemon and Squash

  1. Erin @ Thanks for Cookin'!

    I’ve never cooked with pearl barley, but I love the idea of combining lemon and squash. What a great way to still have a warm comforting meal while the weather is still so cold but with a bright, spring-y, citrus kick!

    1. Lizzie Post author

      Thanks! I love adding lemon, it zings up all sorts of things. Pearl barley is so easy in the slow cooker.

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