Spanish Lentil Barley Skillet

There definitely are down sides of being bilingual and bicultural, but, the joys are many too.  I have an example of a down and an up and joyous side with his recipe.

Just like children around the world, I enjoyed playing patty cake with my mother.  My mother would sing:

Tortila de manteca para mamá que me da la teta

Tortita de cebada para papá que no me da nada.

I had no idea what cebada meant.  But, it didn’t matter.  I knew that mother got something good and whatever cebada was, it could not be too special as daddy was sort of out of the picture.

Things in Spanish sometimes tend to be more earthy and pragmatic than in English…at least that is what I noticed growing up as a junior cultural anthropologist figuring out what was ok in one culture that was not ok or just so-so in another.  The translation is:

Butter cake for mommy who gives me teet

Barley cake for daddy who gives me nothing

It was years into switching full time into English that I learned about barley and had no earthly idea what its name was in Spanish.  I looked it up and it was my old patty cake cebada. If barley figures in Spanish patty cake it must be pretty ingrained in the culture, so when it came to scouring the Internet for recipes that contain barley, I turned to Spain.

I wanted a lentil/barley mixture with a Spanish flair and I was not disappointed when I went searching for ideas, proportions, etc.  Turns out that if you search for  lentejas con cebada you get pages and pages of recipes – mostly in Spanish, but some in English.  Barley and Lentils seem to go together like the proverbial horse and carriage.  There are recipes for soup, salads, croquets (yes, you can mush up lentils and barley and have a fake meat dish) and, like my humble contribution today – a skillet lentil/barley dinner.


  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. ½ cup chopped onions
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 carrots, sliced
  5. 2 celery stalks, sliced
  6. 1.5 ounces dried Spanish chorizo, sliced
  7. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  8. 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  9. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  10. ¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  11. 1/8 teaspoon saffron
  12. 1/3 cup 10-minute barley
  13. 1/3 cup lentils
  14. 2 cups water


  1. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat until fragrant.
  2. Add the first six ingredients sauté for 4 minutes, until onion softens but does not brown.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the water, stir to coat.
  4. Add the water, lower the heat, and cook for 20 minutes.


Makes 3 servings of 293 calories each Or 4 servings of 220 calories each

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