Pesto Barley with Scallions & Cannellini Beans

Pantry and fresh ingredients join forces in this easy pesto barley with scallions & cannellini beans, a filling herby grain side or salad.

Pesto Barley with Scallions & Cannellini Beans
My husband likes to joke that if wasn’t for me he would eat spaghetti every night for dinner.

Honestly, there are many nights when I give him options, and he still picks spaghetti. 

We’re compatible eaters when we dine out, but at home he tends to gravitate toward more simple, 5-ingredient or less kinds of dishes.

Now one of our three-year-old’s favorite meals is pasta, “Daddy style,” which is spaghetti with olive oil, garlic powder and plenty of Parmesan.

Pesto Barley with Scallions & Cannellini Beans
Absolutely no black pepper or red pepper flakes like Dad usually adds to his version of his signature dish.

Pasta is its own food group for so many kids in the 5 and under crowd. That’s not a bad thing at all especially considering how quick and easy it is to make. Plus it’s not hard to find noodles on a restaurant menu.

I don’t always want to join them on the pasta train. Of course I love pasta, but I like to have my meals centered around more veggies and protein instead of carbs.

Weeknights can get tricky because I don’t always have the motivation to make something else.

Who wants to be a short-order cook on a Monday night after you’ve worked a full day?

Pesto Barley with Scallions & Cannellini

How To Make Pesto Barley with Scallions & Cannellini Beans

My solution is to stir pesto into a can of beans. They are both pantry ingredients that I always have at home.

I decided to put in a little more effort to this weeknight go-to by adding whole grains and greens to my pesto barley with scallions & cannellini beans.

While the barley simmered on the stove, I made pesto in the food processor. Anytime I mix pesto into grains, I find that they drink up a lot of the pesto.

Then I stirred in the beans, greens, scallions, chives and remaining walnuts.

This pesto barley with scallions & cannellini beans could not be any more simple.

You can even make the barley and pesto in advance, so it’s ready even faster. 




Pesto Barley with Scallions & Cannellini Beans

Pesto Barley with Scallions & Cannellini Beans
  • Author: Paige
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 22 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x


1/2 cup Italian barley

1 cup water

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup walnuts plus more for garnish

1/2 ounce Parmesan, grated, plus more shaved for serving

11/2 cups basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

115 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 handful baby arugula and spinach

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced chives

1/4 cup chopped walnuts


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.

For the pesto, mince the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor. Add 1/4 cup walnuts, Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper. Puree the mixture. While the motor is running, drizzle the olive oil through the feeder tube until the pesto is fully combined.

Stir in about 1/4-1/3 cup pesto. Add the beans, arugula, scallions, chives and remaining walnuts to the barley. Top with Parmesan before serving.

Save the extra pesto for another use.

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