Avocado, Barley, Bowl, Brunch, Grains, Lunch, Nuts, Pecans, Vegetarian

Avocado and pecan barley bowl with yogurt sauce

Avocado and pecan barley bowl with yogurt sauce

Today was arugula harvest day. We got some arugula starters a while ago and planted them on our balcony. We didn’t have a big enough yield for a salad, so we made this barley bowl instead.

This recipe has a higher amount of sodium than other recipes posted here. I’ve estimated the approximate sodium intake to be 337 mg per serving given the ingredients I used. Check the tips below for information on how this amount was calculated and suggestions on how to further reduce the sodium in this recipe if needed.

Avocado and pecan barley bowl with yogurt sauce

Adapted from Megan Gordon‘s Whole-Grain Mornings. Her recipe, called ‘California Barley Bowl with Lemony Yogurt Sauce’ is also available online on Epicurious.

Serves two people, heartily


  • Barley

    • 1/2 cup (100 g) pearled barley
    • 1 1/4 C (300 ml) water (I used more, about 1 3/4 cups/425 ml. See tips below)
  • Bowl

    • 1 1/2 cups cooked barley, still warm (yield from above)
    • 1/2 cup (60 g) pecan halves
    • 1/2 cup (80 g) queso fresco or Cotija cheese, crumbled
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 1 cup (20 g) baby arugula
    • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Yogurt sauce

    • 1/2 cup (140 g) plain yogurt
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice


  1. Cook barley

    Add the barley and water to a saucepan. If the saucepan and its lid do not form a perfect seal, increase the amount of water. Bring the grains and water to a boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer the grains until they are tender, 40-60 minutes. Mine were tender after 43 minutes. Remove the grains from the heat and allow them to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. During this time, they will steam and absorb some of the excess liquid. Drain of any excess liquid after the 10 minute rest and fluff the grains with a fork.

  2. Toast pecans

    Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a rimmed cookie sheet, toast the pecans for 7-10 minutes. I toast mine for 7 or 8 minutes. If you’d like to chop them, allow them to cool to the touch before chopping. If you’d prefer to use them whole, there’s no need to cool them; they can be used in the bowl straight out of the oven.

  3. Prepare yogurt sauce

    Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, and half of the freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice. Taste and whisk in the remaining juice if desired.

  4. Prepare bowls

    In a medium-sized bowl, combine together the cooked barley, pecans, queso fresco, avocado, and baby arugula. Divide the salad evenly into two bowls. Top each bowl with as much of the yogurt sauce as desired. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.


Sources of sodium

  • queso fresco
  • yogurt

Approximate sodium intake per serving: 337 mg

  • 314 mg from the cojita cheese, which has 220 mg per 1oz (28 g) serving
  • 23 mg from the yogurt, which has 75 mg per 1C (227 g) serving
  • These values are calculated from the nutritional labels of the ingredients I used


  • Reduce the sodium

    Most of the sodium comes from the cheese. If you’d like to further reduce the sodium intake for this recipe, choose the brand that has the lowest amount of sodium or reduce the amount of cheese you use to 1/3 cup (60 g) or less.

  • Different nuts

    The author recommends using toasted sliced almonds. I’ve made this with sliced almonds and it’s still great, but they’re a little bit sharp and don’t add as much flavor to the dish as the pecans. Walnuts would also go well. Different types of toasted seeds like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds would be nice additions as well.

  • Cooking grains

    My saucepan and its lid are not completely seal proof, allowing too much water to evaporate while the grains are cooking, and I need to remember to add extra water or else I end up with burnt grains.

Did you make this?

  • If you recreate this recipe, I’d love to know! Leave a comment here and tag @alickofsalt on social media.


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