Numerous people in a large kitchen performing various cooking duties.

Cooking at Home - Barley Jambalaya

© iStock - Rawpixel

Makes: 6 Servings

Cook Time: 1 hour

Preparation Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 cup instant pearl barley
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 3 medium onions
  • 2 small celery stalks
  • 1 cup diced green, red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 ounces ground turkey
  • 2 (14.5-oz) cans diced tomato (no salt added)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


In Advance:

  1. In a colander, rinse barley under cold water.
  2. In a medium pot over high heat, bring barley, water, and bay leaves to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook barley until tender and water is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a colander, drain barley. Set aside.


  1. Peel, rinse, and dice onions. Rinse and dice celery and pepper. Peel and mince garlic.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil.
  3. Add onions, celery, pepper, and garlic to pot. Mix well. Cook until veggies are soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add ground turkey. Cook until internal temperature registers 165 °F on a food thermometer, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add spices. Stir to combine. Cover and reduce heat. Cook at a low simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add cooked barley to the mixture. Stir to combine. Add more water or broth, if needed. Cook over low heat to bled flavors, about 5-10 minutes more.
  8. Remove bay leaves and serve.


  • To save time, cook barley up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate until ready to use. Add to pot in step 7 above. Or, use another whole grain you have made in advance, like brown rice.
  • When doubling this recipe, do not double cayenne pepper unless you prefer a very spicy dish.
  • For a vegetarian option, use cooked or canned pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained, in place of meat.

Materials: You will need a can opener, colander, cutting board, large pot with lid, measuring spoons, medium pot with lid, mixing spoon, and a sharp knife.

Source: Meeting Your MyPlate Goals on a Budget, MyPlate National Strategic Partners Toolkit

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: One Serving: 1.5 Cups



Total Calories


Total Fat

5 g

Saturated Fat

1 g


15 mg


440 mg


41 g

Dietary Fiber

9 g

Total Sugars

9 g

Added Sugars included

0 g


9 g

Vitamin D

0 mcg


80 mg


3 mg


549 mg