Chicken and Barley Pilaf

Barley is a delicious, healthy grain that makes this dish suitable for weeknight family meals as well as weekend get-togethers with friends and neighbours.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6

  • ½ cup (80 g) frozen spinach
  • 6 large chicken thighs (2 2/3 lb/1.2 kg), bone in, skin on
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground cumin
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz/414 mL) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (500 mL) chicken broth
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Thaw spinach and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, season the meat with thyme, basil, cumin, pepper and ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) of salt. Mix well.
  4. In a large oven-safe pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of oil over medium heat.
  5. Brown the meat skin-side down. Carefully turn the thighs over without tearing the skin, to brown on the other side. Remove meat from the pan and set aside.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil and sauté the onion for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  9. Add the tomatoes with juice, barley, ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt and the chicken broth. Mix well.
  10. Return the meat to the pan, cover with lid and bring to a simmer. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  11. Add the spinach. Mix well, cover pan, set aside for 10–12 minutes so that barley absorbs the excess liquid. Serve hot.


  • Chill leftover pilaf for up to 3 days in the fridge.
  • To freeze, let cool, then transfer to food safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw pilaf in the fridge overnight. Heat to serving temperature (165°F/74°C or higher).
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