Cook the Book: Barley-Chorizo Skillet Pie

Think "barley," and the first thing that comes to my mind is usually feed for livestock—I don't even consider it under the header of "whole grains," which I equate with oats or whole wheat, and I'm sure I can't be the only one. Luckily, Lorna Sass is out to change the perception that whole grains just means substituting brown rice for sushi or making steel-cut Irish oatmeal with Whole Grains: Every Day, Every Way. The cookbook introduces a range of recipes that incorporates a variety of whole grains, like buckwheat and polenta, to lesser known fare such as amaranth and Job's tears.

This recipe is a healthier spin on the traditional Spanish omelet with the barley substituting for the potatoes, making the dish a little less dense and with a chewier kick to it. Perfect for brunch without inducing you into a belly-hugging food coma, as usually seems to be the case with brunch. If you want to give it an Italian flair, Sass suggests substituting flat-leaf parsley for the cilantro, salami for the chorizo, farro for the barley, and 1/3 cup grated Roman cheese instead of the manchego.


  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt (use lower amount if chorizo is quite salty)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 3 to 4 ounces Spanish cured chorizo, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked hulled or hull-less barley
  • 1/2 cup grated manchego or Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 ounces)


  1. 1.

    1. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cilantro, and salt. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10- or 12-inch well-seasoned cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper, and chorizo and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the pepper is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute more. Stir in the barley and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

  3. 3.

    3. Pour the eggs evenly over the vegetable-grain mixture. Reduce the heat to medium. Use a spatula to push the cooked egg at the edges of the skillet towards the center, allowing the uncooked egg to seep to the bottom. Cook over medium-low heat uncovered until the edges are set and the bottom is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

  4. 4.

    4. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Broil the pie until the cheese is browned and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Serve from the pan, or slide whole onto a large platter or cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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