Spiced Barley and Chickpea Pilaf

barley pilaf

While live Thrive Kitchen classes are still on hold (I miss you all!), I have decided to continue to bring Thrive Kitchen to you by demonstrating some recipes from or inspired by the classes.  For June, which is Mediterranean Diet Month, here is a recipe for a pilaf.  This recipe highlights barley, a whole grain.  Barley cooks up to be both soft and chewy, is high in fiber and protein and has a low glycemic index.  Adding chickpeas to this makes it a complete meal, which I recommend serving with a leafy green salad.  And the cinnamon and allspice both add layers of flavor as well as health benefits.

To learn how to cook this step-by-step and learn more about the nutritional and health benefits, watch the video! Enjoy!



Spiced Barley and Chickpea Pilaf
Inspired by a recipe in Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi.

pilaf with salad

Serves 4 to 6


2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 T butter

1 T olive oil

2 T pine nuts

1 cup pearled barley

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 and 1/4 cup no- or low-sodium vegetable stock

¾ tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup finely chopped mint

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

For the sauce:

½ cup Greek yogurt

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced or grated


1. Soak barley in cool water for an hour, then drain.

2.  Warm a small frying pan over medium heat and add pine nuts.  Toast nuts for about 5 minutes until golden, shaking pan frequently to prevent burning.  Remove from heat and allow to cool while cooking the pilaf.

3.  Place onions, butter and olive oil in a large, heavy pot and sauté on low-medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until onion is soft and brown, but not fully caramelized.

4.Add soaked barley, spices and stock to the onions, along with a few pinches and grinds of salt and pepper.  Stir well and bring to the boil, then cover and reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, stir in chickpeas and cover for another 5 to ten minutes.

5.  Meanwhile, combine yogurt with lemon juice, garlic and a pinch of salt, to taste.

6.  Just before serving, stir in chopped herbs and toasted pine nuts.  Top each serving with a dollop of yogurt sauce.


Thanks for reading! 


Cookbook coming March 2021! Spicebox Kitchen, Hachette.

For information about my healthy cooking classes, please visit (and Like!) my Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/TheDoctorsSpicebox.  For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, we hope to be back in action in the Thrive Kitchen in a few months. In the meantime, I am trying to get a virtual platform for our classes, and will share more recipes on my new YouTube Channel— please subscribe!

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