I made this Layered Mexican Barley Casserole a few weeks ago, and it was so dang good. I have wanted to show it to you, but other recipes kept elbowing their way in front of the line. Barley is a modest ingredient that no one ever remembers, so it’s used to that kind of mistreatment. Today it will finally have its moment to shine!
Do you like step-by-step recipe photos? If so, you must be disappointed with me on a regular basis. I’m not usually one to take step-by-step photos for a lot of reasons. It’s hard to cook and take photos at the same time for one thing, and I’m usually in a hurry for one reason or another.
Also, whether day or night, the lighting in my kitchen is horrible. I have to either carry what I’m cooking to the dining table for decent photos or just take bad pictures with the fluorescent and halogen lights in there. Lastly, editing all those photos is time consuming! All that said, this layered dish was just too fun looking to not take photos, so I bring you this (poorly lit) animated gif of the recipe process!
As I mentioned, I made this a few weeks ago and can’t remember now why I used barley. I think it was something like I was going to use rice, but I had been wondering what to do with the random cup of barley in my pantry for a while. Whatever the reason, I’m so glad I did! It gave a nice hearty, chewy texture to this casserole that wouldn’t have happened with rice. In fact, I’m thinking about how I can start using barley more often!
One word of caution (although “caution” might be a little strong since we’re talking about dinner not race car driving): Don’t add salt to the meat. I know you want to and it seems really, really plain as written, but the chicken broth and salsa already have a lot of salt, and you’ll regret it if you add more sodium to the party. There’s plenty of flavor going on in there!
Also, you could saute the peppers and onions with the meat if you prefer. I wanted the layered effect, and I had time to cook them separately since I had to wait for the barley anyway, but feel free to skip that extra step if you’d like. I think that’s about it. You are ready to be set loose on this tasty barley casserole recipe! Have fun :)
Layered Mexican Barley Casserole
Barley finally gets to be the star of the show in this delicious casserole recipe!
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 1x
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 cup barley (or substitute brown rice, but then it’s Mexican Rice Casserole)
- 1 onion sliced
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 1 green bell pepper sliced
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 pound ground turkey or beef
- 2 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 16 ounces prepared fresh salsa
- 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 4 green onions sliced
Bring chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, and oregano to a low boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in barley, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook 45 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. (You could do this step a day or two before and keep the barley in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the casserole.)
About 20 minutes before your barley is ready, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.
Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper strips, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and saute until vegetables are tender. Remove from pan to a bowl. (You can cook the vegetables with the meat in the next step if you prefer.)
In the same skillet, add the ground meat, garlic powder, and chili powder, Saute meat, crumbling as it cooks, until cooked through.
Now it’s time to assemble! Spread the cooked barley in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the peppers and onion over the barley, and then the cooked meat over that. Spread the salsa over the meat, then cheese on top, and finally sprinkle with green onions.
Bake in preheated oven for approximately 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted. (Baking time will increase if the ingredients were not hot when you assembled the dish.)
- Cook Time: 60
- Category: Main Dish
- Cuisine: Mexican
Want more baked Mexican goodness? Try these recipes!
Clearly barley is not the star, meat and cheese is. You can put fat and salt on anything and it will taste good. Not much of a recipe.
Wow, Grumpy. Lol.
The recipe sounds good! :)
1. Can I freeze them after making?
2. How long can I store them in the fridge (not the freezer compartment)?
question: can I make night before and store in fridge until ready to heat and eat?
So sorry for not replying sooner, but yes I think this would reheat very well. Thank you, Bridget!
I saw this a couple of months ago and thought it sounded interesting- because I love barley AND Mexican AND casseroles, but I didn’t get around to trying it till I saw your list of least tried recipes of 2014. Most of them were on my “To Do” list but I didn’t get around to them. I made the Mexican -barley-casserole Sunday night and it was SUPER! Super easy, super tasty, and super for left overs just like you said. Me and my husband loved it and had finished it off (after having it the night I fixed it, for breakfast with an egg off to the side and again for lunch) by the next day. It was so TASTEY but SO low in fat and SO satisfying! Thanks for making me take a better look at barley & seeing how much more you can use it in. I’m doing the frank and beans with sweet potato tomorrow, I CAN’T WAIT to try THAT one!! I promise I’ll let you know!
Thank you, Becky! I love when I find a recipe that I want to eat for three meals in a row. You know it’s a winner! Hope you are having a good weekend :)
Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner says
My husband and I love Mexican food and I never thought to use barley with it! Brilliant because it looks delicious. I try to do step by step photos on my blog but I hate the lighting in my kitchen so I’m never happy with those pics. Love your fun layering photo. :)
Thanks, Tina! I have to go fun instead of pretty with step-by-step photos because I just don’t have the patience or lighting to make them look good. Nice to hear from you :)
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl says
The words Mexican and Casserole go together perfectly for me. Can’t wait to give this a taste!
Thank you, Pamela! Barley reminds me of you for some reason :) I think you will love this one!
This is great. I have a bunch of barley in my cupboard and no ideas on how to make kid-friendly. Now I do. Pinning!
Glad you like it, Serena. I hope it’s a hit at your house too. Thank you!
Thalia @ butter and brioche says
I have not cooked with barley very much before, so you definitely have inspired me to recreate this mexican barley casserole Andi. It looks seriously delicious and SO cheesy!
Thank you, Thalia! This one makes for good leftovers too. I hope you love it!
Thank you for the nice recipe. Andi.
You’re very welcome, Liz :)
Jordan Sward @ Smile Sandwich says
I love barley but haven’t done too much cooking with it – this looks great!
Hi, Jordan! I had mostly just put it in soups and stews, but this recipe makes me want to try it more often.
Jen @ Yummy Healthy Easy says
This looks SO good, Andi!!! I absolutely adore barley! Love the gif of all the layers. Will have to make this soon! Pinned!
Thanks, Jen! I’m glad I’m not the only barley fan ;) xo