Vegetable Barley Bowl with Coconut Curry Sauce

You can arrange the veggies on top of this vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce painstakingly but it tastes delicious no matter what! #vegetables #barley #wholegrain #thaicurry

i’m weary of insta love. in books and characters and people, for songs that you’re so infatuated with that they’re on repeat in your head again and again once all day long and then never again.

but those things that you let course through you, gradually, are the best. estelle’s “american boy” is a perennial karaoke classic, no matter how many times i (try to) rap kanye’s parts. and this vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce. on first pass, it sounds fine, delicious even, but maybe boring. the first bite, perhaps one with too much barley and not enough coconut curry sauce, is bland. but then you grab the right bite. the kind with a few grains of barley, a carrot coin, a kale leaf, a walnut nugget, a fat droplet of sauce. the vegetal sweetness and the chewy barley and the cozy curry all make sense now and together, don’t they?

this vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce was inspired by the bombay bowl from veggie grill. mine is a simplified version, with sauteed vegetables instead of herb-roasted ones (roasted vegetables take days that i don’t have), and does without hemp seeds and cilantro and beans. still ridiculously hearty, and by no means less delicious.

This vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce is a riot of color and texture. #vegetables #barley #wholegrain #thaicurry

1 year ago: swiss chard and sweet potato gratin | palmiers
2 years ago: alton brown’s pancakes | creamy coconut milk chicken adobo
3 years ago: smashburger, san jose (westgate) | angel food cake trifles with chocolate mousse
4 years ago: garlic and rosemary infused penne with chickpeas | mini brown butter, coconut and raspberry cakes

Vegetable Barley Bowl with Coconut Curry Sauce
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
This vegetable barley bowl features a creamy coconut curry sauce, which coats each grain of barley and every piece of vegetable.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, thai
Keyword: barley, carrots, cauliflower, coconut, coconut milk, curry, dairy-free, egg-free, thai curry paste, walnuts, zucchini
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 246 kcal
  • 2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into coins
  • 1/2 head cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 zucchini cut into coins (or half-moons if it's a big zucchini)
  • 1 bunch kale leaves only, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp Thai green curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup walnuts toasted and chopped
  1. Place 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and the barley in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until tender and pleasantly chewy, about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat some oil. Add the carrots and cauliflower; saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic; saute until fragrant. Add the squash and the kale, then saute until the carrots, cauliflower and squash is fork-tender, and the kale is cooked to your desired doneness.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, sesame oil and lemon juice.
  4. Toss the barley, vegetables and coconut curry sauce until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Top with the walnuts and serve warm.
Recipe Notes

Cook the vegetables to your desired doneness, but if you need some sort of gauge, start with 7-8 minutes for the cauliflower and carrots, and 5 minutes for the squash and kale.

Feel free to mix in beans, meat, or any other protein that you'd like.

If you want to make this vegan, substitute the fish sauce with soy sauce.

You can use whatever vegetables you'd like in this vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce. Here, I've used carrots, kale, zucchini and cauliflower. #vegetables #barley #wholegrain #thaicurry

more grain bowls

Rice salad sounds boring, but how about herby rice with grapes and pecans? It's packed with different textures and it's a perfect make-ahead side dish. #herbs #rice #grapes #pecans

herby rice with grapes and pecans

Herby, garlicky chimichurri balances out the richness of an oozy egg in this hearty chimichurri and butternut squash quinoa bowl. #chimichurri #quinoa #butternutsquash #vegetarian

chimichurri and butternut squash quinoa bowls

This vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce is the kind of meal that has you counting down the minutes until lunchtime at work. #vegetables #barley #wholegrain #thaicurry

34 Replies to “Vegetable Barley Bowl with Coconut Curry Sauce”

  1. Oooh, Heather, this bowl sounds so so good! And so healthy – I love it! There’s nothing like hearty bowl of delicious!

    1. thanks, laura! (:

  2. Love this loaded veggie bowl!

    1. same! thanks patrick (:

  3. I’m a huge fan of barley soup so I know this vegetable barley bowl is right up my alley. Can you believe I’ve never cooked with coconut milk??? I need to jump in, this is the perfect recipe to get me started. Delicious healthy and gorgeous. 🙂 I love the Song “American Boy” by Estelle 🙂

    1. ooh then you’ll like this! it’s like barley soup, but without the soup (; what?! coconut milk is so good, and i like to pretend that i’m healthier when i use it because then i’m going dairy free (;

  4. I love cauliflower!! This bowl of yummy goodness looks amazing. I wish I had a bowl right now!

    1. cauliflower is one of my faves! i love how sweet it gets when you cook it (:

  5. Looks so healthy and yummy! A big bowl of happiness!!!

    1. thanks, radi! (:

  6. I really ought to cook more with barley! I love the taste of it in beef barley soup, but other than that, I am stumped on how else to use it. Gotta try this soon!

    1. i toss it into all my salads! tbh i toss everything into my salads, but still (;

  7. I’m down for anything that says coconut curry sauce, especially if it comes with a ton of vegetables like this! Totally my kind of meal!

    1. haha same! as soon as i hear coconut curry, i’m there.

  8. That’s a beautiful looking bowl to start with, the veggies are arranged so beautifully. Coconut curry sauce screams deliciousness and it’s the ultimate comfort food. So yummy and so healthy!!!

    1. arranging the vegetables took wayyyyy too long. you can bet when i make this on a normal day, there’s no such arranging (;

  9. I think it’s safe to say I’ve never made anything with barley before! I don’t know why but it never appealed to me until after seeing this post! Yummy, this recipe looks incredible!

    1. if you’re into chewy grains, highly recommend! i love its different texture with all those crunchy and tender vegetables (:

  10. I really love how you’re incorporating a lot of veggies in your recipes! OMG I remember American Boy from ages ago!! I liked that song so much back then XD. I haven’t had coconut curry sauce before but that sounds delish! To be honest, I like your bowl more than Veggie Grill.

    1. haha my fridge is just always packed with vegetables (i had 6 heads of romaine in my fridge last week leftover from a retreat lol). and “american boy” is just a classic (;

  11. You must be so much fun at karaoke! I have never paired barley with curry (or coconut) but it sounds fantastic! With all the veggies, I love how healthy and hearty this is!

    1. i like karaoke but i never want to use a microphone! i have a theory that using a mic makes me sound 2389x worse (;

  12. That looks like one tasty barley bowl! The coconut curry sauce sounds amazing.

    1. thanks marie! (:

  13. Love that there’s so many clean eating ingredients in this recipe! Looks like a perfect bowl for weekday lunches!

    1. yes, this is an awesome weekday lunch! just prep everything on the weekend, and you’re set for the week (:

  14. I really need to make curry again because MAN IS IT GOOD!! I don’t trust restaurants though because I fear they might add a little something extra to the mix that my body does NOT like! Ha! Mmmm Currryyyyy! THANK YOU for reminding me of how friggin’ BOMB it is!

    1. mmm yeah asian restaurants (i feel like mostly chinese lol. everything is fried even when you think it’s not, and there’s msg everywhere) add some questionable things. thai curry at home it is!

  15. This is a bowl of pure comfort, I love it! Yum 😀

    1. thanks! this bowl is allll cozy comfort (:

  16. You had me at “weary of Insta”. Enough said on that. But really, I think simple things done well rings true here.

    1. oh, instagram. although i’m leaning towards ugh at all social media. it’s fun as a consumer, but much less so as a blogger.

  17. This is hilarious, I was already roasting carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini. Then I thought, I should make some coconut barley to go with this…. I wonder what spices I should use? I went on google and I found your recipe… it was delicious and exactly what I was looking for!

    1. yay glad you liked it! you can never go wrong with roasted veggies (:

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