Arugula Cannellini Bean Barley

5 from 5 votes

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Ready in less than 20 minutes, this arugula cannellini bean barley with almonds and Parmesan is a filling grain side that you can serve as a salad, too.

Arugula Cannellini Bean Barley

At the grocery last week I made the mistake of picking up a head of iceberg lettuce thinking it was cauliflower.

Fortunately, I caught my error before I was in the checkout line. Having to walk from one end of the store to the other to return the lettuce to its cooler wasn’t a big deal. I just added that journey to my daily step count.

Please don’t accuse me of being a lettuce snob, but I’m particular about my leaves.

Of course, you can make an interesting iceberg salad with the right enhancements, but I prefer my salads in a deeper shade of green.

Arugula Cannellini Bean Barley

It’s kind of funny how here in the States iceberg lettuce is the ubiquitous salad base.

When I lived in London, I discovered their version is arugula. It must grow like a weed in the UK climate, so that’s why it is everywhere.

This is hard for me to believe, but it has been almost 11 years since I moved back from my time across the pond.

There are certain pop culture, sports and food things that have stayed with me. And arugula is one of them.

Barley with arugula pesto and white beans

I will put arugula in and on pretty much anything. 

On Saturday, I came home totally famished after playing 9 holes of golf with my son, so I used a couple slices of crusty bread to make a sandwich with roasted tomatoes, pesto, sliced hardboiled eggs and a handful of arugula.

This spontaneous sandwich inspired me to revisit one of my arugula-centric, non-salad recipes, this arugula cannellini bean barley.

With almonds, scallions and Parmesan, it eats like a very filling grain side. You can definitely serve it as a salad, too.

This is another dish where leftovers are good eaten cold from the fridge. In this situation, I will add arugula or whatever other lettuce I have on-hand to put it more at the salad end of things.

Stir the arugula, almonds and scallions into the barley

How To Make Arugula Cannellini Bean Barley

Ready in less than 20 minutes, this recipe allows you to multi-task.

First, I get the barley and water simmering on the stove. It takes about 12 minutes for the grains to cook.

Make the arugula almond pesto in the food processor

While the barley and water are bubbling away, I make the arugula sauce. You can think of it like a pesto. 

In a food processor, I puree a combination of garlic, arugula, whole almonds, grated Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. 

You will end up with what looks like a lot. Don’t worry, the grains and beans will absorb the sauce. 

Stir together the pesto and cannellini beans

After that, I stir together the barley, cannellini beans and arugula sauce. Then I fold in arugula leaves and sliced scallions after in order to protect the delicate arugula leaves.

Before serving, I top the arugula cannellini bean barley with grated Parmesan and chopped almonds.

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Arugula Cannellini Bean Barley

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 17 minutes
Servings: 4
Ready in less than 20 minutes, this arugula cannellini bean barley with almonds and Parmesan is a filling grain side that you can serve as a salad, too.


  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds plus 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 ounce grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the barley and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes until tender. Let stand for 2-3 minutes and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • In a food processor, mince the garlic. Add 1-1/2 cups arugula, 1/4 cup whole almonds, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree the mixture. While the motor is running, drizzle the olive oil through the feeder tube until the sauce is fully combined.
  • Stir the sauce and cannellini beans into the barley. Fold in the scallions and remaining arugula. Top with Parmesan and chopped almonds before serving.


Calories: 552kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 666mg | Potassium: 893mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 431IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 200mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
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Hi, I'm Paige.

Welcome to Last Ingredient where you will find simple seasonal recipes with plenty of fruits and vegetables, all for the home cook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    So delicious and FAST! I didn’t have scallions so I finely chopped up some shallot and it was yummy! Served for July 4th BBQ and sister-in-law asked for recipe. 🙂