This easy barley breakfast bowl is such an amazing treat in the spring when the rhubarb is just coming out. Both the barley-oat vanilla creamy base and the tart fruit compote are simple, but pair together with such complementing flavors. Can be meal-prepped for quick breakfasts during the week, is completely vegan and SO de-li-cious.
Rhubarb is definitively one unusual vegetable (yes, it is a vegetable, although we really use it more like a fruit). Its intense sour flavor can be unpleasant when raw, but so amazing after sweetened up a bit. And the fibrous stalk transforms itself into an amazing creamy compote when cooked that can be used into pies, jams, crumbles, sauces and so much more.
The rhubarb in this recipe really shines by its combination with strawberries and the vanilla from the creamy barley oat mixture. The strawberries help naturally sweeten the rhubarb to keep the added sweetener on the minimum. And the milky vanilla barley porridge gently mix with the rhubarb compote to sooth its harsh sour nature.
Barley is a whole grain that's part of the grass family (similar to wheat). It has been cultivated for a very long time (one of the first cultivated grain!) to make alcoholic beverage, feed animals and to use in the kitchen.
You will mostly find hulled and pearl barley. Hulled barley has had its inedible layer removed leaving the bran and germ intact. Pearl barley also has the husk removed, but the bran layer was taken off as well. Pearl barley is also usually polished. If you can, choose hulled barley as it still contains all of its nutritious components.
Why eating barley for breakfast
Barley is an easy grain to cook and such a great addition to breakfast bowls. It gets creamy when cooked (especially if stirred a lot), but holds on its chewy texture to prevent ending up with a consistency that's too mushy.
In this recipe, I like to also adds steel-cut oats to create a more milky or creamy final result. Aside from the great texture, barley has a nutty taste which I find very pleasant when included in fruity dishes.
Also, hulled barley is rich in many nutrients and particularly fiber. Adding this healthy whole grain to your breakfast can help you feel more satisfied and stay full longer.
What you'll need to make this barley breakfast bowl
- Hulled barley (pearl work too)
- Steel-cut oats
- Vegan milk, I love oat milk for this recipe
- Maple syrup
- Vanilla extract
How to make this barley breakfast bowl
To make this bowl, you will have to prepare a barley and oat creamy mixture and a rhubarb-strawberry compote. Barley takes up to 30-40 minutes to cook, so I recommend to start the cooking process on the early side or to meal prep this breakfast so it comes together within minutes on busy mornings.
Make the barley-oat creamy base
- Rinse the oat and barley first (use a fine mesh colander).
- To a medium pot, add the grains and vegan milk, stir and cover. Bring to a gentle boil, then immediately turn down the heat to low. Be careful as milk tends to overflow easily. Keep cooking for 30-40 minutes or until the grains are tender and to your liking. If the milk evaporated too quickly, then simply add a little water. When done, remove from the heat and add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and stir. Keep cover and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Make the strawberry-rhubarb quick compote
- Clean and chop the rhubarb and strawberries.
- Add the fruits to a small pot along with the water and cook on medium-high heat uncovered stirring often. Keep cooking until desired consistency and add more water if needed. You are looking for a saucy texture. When done, remove from the heat and add maple syrup to taste (it will depend on how sweet the fruits are).
Build your breakfast bowl
When ready to eat, simply divide the barley-oat mixture in between 2 bowls and top with the compote. Add more fresh garnishes if desired, such as fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, extra vegan milk, etc.
Watch how to make it
Can I use frozen fruits?
When there are not a lot of seasonal fruits, then simply use frozen ones. Frozen fruits release more water then fresh ones, so you might need to cook for a few extra minutes to let the extra water evaporate.
Meal-prep and reheating tips
Since barley takes up to 40 minutes to cook, you can batch cook both the creamy vanilla mixture and the compote:
Make the barley and oat mixture as described in the recipe. Let it cool completely at room temperature, then store in the fridge in a air-tight container. The grains will thicken a lot during the resting time. Double (or triple!) the recipe if you plan on feeding many people in the next days.
Make the compote ahead also, let it cool, then store in the fridge in a separate container.
When ready to eat: transfer the grain mixture to a bowl, but not the compote just yet. To recreate the creamy mixture, add a splash of vegan milk (few tbsp), stir and warm for a minute or two in the microwave (can also warm up on the stove). Then, top with the compote and other garnishes if desired. The compote is delicious either cold or warm.
Barley breakfast bowl recipe variations
The vanilla creamy grain base is a simple delicious mixture to combine with other ingredients:
- Add cut fresh fruits instead of the compote for a speedy version. This would go great with any stone fruits (peaches, cherries, apricot) or fresh strawberries.
- Also, you could prepare different flavors of compote for a fun variation: skip the rhubarb and add more strawberries or other berries.
- Other topping ideas include: unsweetened apple sauce, cinnamon and maple syrup.
Other breakfast bowls you might like
- Matcha oatmeal with chocolate
- Quinoa breakfast bowl with a leek-tomato compote
- Turmeric blueberry oatmeal
- Peach oatmeal smoothie bowl
I hope you enjoy this barley and oat breakfast bowl as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Barley Breakfast Bowl with a Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
- ½ cup hulled barley - pearl works too
- ½ cup steel-cut oat
- 3 cup vegan plain milk - plus more for serving
- 2 tbsp maple syrup - or to taste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup rhubarb, fresh or frozen - roughly chopped
- 1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen - roughly chopped
- ¼ cup water
- 2 to 3 tbsp maple syrup - or to taste
To make the compote:
- In a small pot, combine the rhubarb, strawberries and water. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and keep uncovered on a low simmering. Stir often to prevent the fruits from sticking to the bottom. Keep cooking until you reach the desired consistency, in between 15 to 20 minutes.
- When the compote is done cooking, add the maple syrup and stir. Set aside.
To make the grain bowl:
- Add the barley and oat to a fine mesh colander and rinse the grains well.
- In a medium pot, combine the grains and the vegan milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat immediately to low. When you reach a very gentle simmer, cover and keep cooking at low heat for about 30-35 minutes. Stir regularly to make sure the grains are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. You can add some water (about ¼ cup at the time) if the grains are getting too dry and still need to cook longer. *Start tasting the grains after about 20-25 minutes: stop the cooking earlier if you like your grain on the chewier side and let it cook longer if you are looking for a more creamy result.
- Once the grains are cooked, add the vanilla extract, maple syrup and stir to combine.
- Divide the cooked grains in between 2 bowls. Add the compote on top and other garnishes if you want (hemp seeds, fresh strawberries, extra milk, etc). Enjoy!