Recipe review: Marla Meridith’s Blackberry Barley Breakfast Bake

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Here’s the thing about breakfast: It’s the meal that I struggle with the most.

On the one hand, there are definitely breakfast foods that I absolutely love–French toast. Omlettes. Bacon. Waffles.

At the same time, I tend not to actually eat any of those foods at breakfast time, and rarely during the week. I’m just not hungry enough in the mornings. Even when I am, I generally don’t have the time to make something.

I know, though, that  should be eating breakfast every day, so I make an effort to eat something by at least mid-morning. That means I’m only left with one problem: What can I prep ahead of time and take with me to work?

Well, that’s where recipes like Marla Meridith’s Blackberry Barley Breakfast Bake come in.

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I’m going to admit a second thing here: I don’t often cook with barley. I think the only other time I’ve used it is when I made beef barley soup. In fact, I’m fairly certain that’s why I had it in my pantry.

When I was looking for breakfast recipes, though, I came across this one. I was a bit hesitant about it at first, mostly because I wasn’t sure what type of texture to expect. See, texture is exactly why I don’t like oatmeal-based dishes. Their gooey structure just… ick. But since I had the barley, and since everything else in the recipe looked so good, I figured I’d give it a shot.

Speaking of the recipe–I do have two notes. If you don’t want to use the Stevia drops, you can substitute in regular sugar. I used about 1 teaspoon, plus some honey once it came time to actually serve the dish. But I’ll get to the honey in a moment. The recipe also doesn’t specify what type of barley to use, but I’m not sure that matters. I used pearl barley, and I didn’t have any trouble with it.

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Now, let’s get to how things turned out. First of all, I had no reason to worry about the texture. While there was some slight resemblance to oatmeal’s texture, there wasn’t enough to turn me off the dish. The barley actually stayed a little firm and kept its shape, which helped matters. So if texture is something you might be concerned about, too, you can rest assured in that regard.

And when it comes to taste? While this may not be the best breakfast I’ve ever had, it is quite good, especially for a meal-prep breakfast. I liked the sharp taste of the blackberries against the savoury barley and almond milk. Plus, the cinnamon adds a nice secondary layer, though you wouldn’t want to add too much of it. All in all, it tastes like dessert in the form of breakfast.

When it came to eating the leftovers at work, all I did was warm the barley bake, then add some cinnamon, honey, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  What you add to your own is up to you, especially for the almond milk. Regular milk, or even cream, would work just fine. I just liked the particular flavour that the vanilla almond milk adds to the dish.

To sum it up…

  • Time to prepare and cook/bake: about 1 hour and 15 minutes, including the time to cook the barley.
  • Difficulty: Really easy.
  • How it tasted: Fairly good for a make-ahead breakfast.
  • Would I make it again: Probably, but not all the time.
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