Barley and Wild Rice Pilaf

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Serve this tasty pilaf as a nutritious side or turn it into a light main course with the addition of a salad of sliced tomatoes or mixed greens tossed in a vinaigrette made with your best cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. For optimal nutrition (and flavor) always use oils that are cold-pressed when making salad dressings or for drizzling over a finished dish.

NotesThe folded tea towels absorb the moisture that accumulates during cooking, preventing it from dripping on the pilaf, which would make it soggy.

If using a smaller slow cooker the cooking time will decrease to 5 to 6 hours on Low or 2½ to 3 hours on High.


This dish can be partially prepared before it is cooked. Complete Step 1. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, continue with Step 2.

Mindful Morsels:Because it is more commonly available, the nutrient analysis on this recipe was done using pearled barley, which is more processed and less nutritious than the whole (hulled) or pot barley called for.


This recipe is relatively high in carbohydrates, most of which come from healthy whole grains (wild rice and barley). Most nutritionists agree that complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, should be the dietary staples of healthy eating. North Americans get about half their calories from carbohydrates. The problem is, about half those carb calories come from refined foods, such as white bread, fast food snacks and baked goods. Research links a steady diet of refined carbs with an increase in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among other concerns. On the other hand, a diet rich in good carbs, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can significantly benefit your health. For instance, participants in the Harvard Nurses’ Study who ate three servings of whole grains, or more, a day reduced their risk of heart attack by 35 percent. So it’s not surprising that the Harvard School of Public Health recommends “whenever possible, replace highly processed grains, cereals and sugars with minimally processed whole-grain products.”


Cooking Methodslow cooking



Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course, side dish

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, healthy, lactose-free, low saturated fat, peanut free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentcrock pot


Taste and Textureherby, nutty, savory


  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 (28 oz/796 ml) can tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup (125 ml) wild rice
  • ½ cup (125 ml) whole (hulled) or pot barley, rinsed (see Mindful Morsels, below)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock or chicken stock or water
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) toasted pine nuts


  1. Large (minimum 5 quart) slow cooker (see Notes)

  2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

  3. Add rice, barley and vegetable stock and stir well. Place two clean tea towels, each folded in half (so you will have four layers) over top of stoneware (see Tips, left). Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve hot.


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