Cheesy Vegan Broccoli & Barley with White Beans

Created by Laura Wright
4.91 from 30 votes

This cheesy vegan broccoli and barley dish comes together in one pan with a quick blender sauce in about an hour. Made rich and dairy-free with raw cashews, and flavorful with garlic, miso, roasted peppers, spices, and shallots.

An overhead shot of cheesy vegan broccoli and barley with white beans in a Dutch oven-style pot. A wooden handle is sticking out of the pot.
An up close, overhead shot of an individual serving of a creamy broccoli, barley and white bean dish.
An overhead shot of a "cheesy" vegan red pepper and cashew sauce inside of a blender pitcher.
An overhead shot of sautéed broccoli being spooned onto a plate.

I’m really on the one pan/skillet-style suppers lately! This vegan broccoli and barley dish has risotto-like qualities, but also a bit of a cheesy veggie mac feel too. Either way, it’s comforting, wholesome, and pretty simple to make. I personally love all of those things this time of year 🙂. I would serve this recipe with a simple green salad with red wine vinegar dressing for a nice dinner–much like how I would serve this Creamy Lemon Orzo with Chickpeas & Broccoli.

The ingredient list for the sauce looks a bit long. But if you’ve cooked from my site before, you may have a lot of those pantry items on hand ready to go! The cheesy cashew sauce can be made up to 5 days in advance and kept in the fridge. To replace cashews in this creamy sauce, I recommend raw sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts should be soaked for 8 hours before blending.

I start this recipe by making the super savoury sauce in the blender. A typical raw cashew base with lots of flavour from garlic, miso, nutritional yeast, spices, Dijon mustard, sautéed shallots, and a roasted red pepper. That gets set aside while we start building the broccoli, barley, and white bean base. Small pieces of broccoli are sautéed quickly and set aside. 

Then I go with another shallot base! You can never have too many shallots in my opinion. I add the pearl barley and white beans for some extra protein, and then pour over the vegetable stock. We bring that to a boil and simmer until the pearl barley is tender, about 20 minutes. The key to the shorter cooking time is using pearl barley. Do not try to substitute pot barley!

From here, everything gets stirred together and warmed through. Pretty simple! I like to garnish with a bit of chopped dill, chives, or parsley (whichever one I have on hand at the time). 
For more pearl barley goodness, check out my Vegan Barley Risotto with Roasted Carrots. And for simple but glorious white beans check out my Brothy Beans.

An overhead shot shows a creamy vegan red pepper and cashew sauce being poured into a pot of cooked barley and white beans.
An overhead shot of cheesy vegan broccoli and barley with white beans in a Dutch oven-style pot. A wooden handle is sticking out of the pot.
An up close, overhead shot of cheesy vegan broccoli and barley with white beans in a Dutch oven-style pot. A wooden handle is sticking out of the pot.
An overhead shot of an individual serving of a creamy broccoli, barley and white bean dish.

Cheesy Vegan Broccoli & Barley with White Beans

This cheesy vegan broccoli and barley dish comes together in one pan with a quick blender sauce in about 1 hour. Made rich and dairy-free with raw cashews and flavorful with garlic, miso, roasted pepper, spices, and shallots.
4.91 from 30 votes
An up close, overhead shot of an individual serving of a creamy broccoli, barley and white bean dish.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Cheesy Cashew Red Pepper Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, small dice (about ¼ cup diced shallot)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 roasted red pepper (from a jar is great!)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light miso
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup water
  • hot sauce, to taste

Broccoli, Barley & White Beans

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli (small pieces)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large shallot, fine dice (about ½ cup diced shallot)
  • clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 19-oz (591 ml) can white beans, drained and rinsed (2 ¼ cups cooked white beans)
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • handful chopped parsley, dill, or chives, for serving

Equipment

Notes

  • The pearl barley is key to achieving the quicker cooking time here. Do not use pot barley!
  • If you can’t have cashews, I recommend substituting with raw sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or raw macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts will need 8 hours of soaking time.
  • For an even simpler option, if you have access to non-dairy “cream” at your grocery store (I use this one often), you can replace the cashews and water in the cheesy sauce recipe with 1-1¼ cups of the “cream.”
  • The cheesy sauce can be made and stored in the fridge up to 5 days in advance.
  • If you need this to be gluten-free, I would recommend subbing the barley for plain white rice or arborio rice (same amount) and cutting the vegetable stock down to 4 cups. You might still need to add some splashes of stock to the finished dish, but starting at 4 cups is safest.

Instructions

  • Make the cheesy cashew red pepper sauce. Heat the teaspoon of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until just starting to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the shallots and garlic to an upright blender. To the blender add the cashews, roasted red pepper, nutritional yeast, miso, lemon juice, Dijon, tamari, smoked paprika, water, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Blend the mixture on high until smooth and creamy, about 2 full minutes. Set aside.
  • Start on the broccoli and barley. Set the pot back over medium heat. Pour in ½ tablespoon of olive oil and swirl it around. Add all the broccoli and stir. Season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Sauté until broccoli is bright green and just starting to get tender at the stems, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the broccoli and place it on a plate to the side. It will continue to cook a bit and that's okay! Return the pot to the heat.
  • Pour the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil in the pot and swirl it around. Add the shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and dried thyme and sauté for another full minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the barley and stir to coat in the oil and seasoning. Add the white beans stir again. Pour in all of the vegetable stock.
  • Cover and bring the barley and bean mixture up to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and place a lid on top, slightly askew. Check in on the pot here and there. It should take about 30 minutes for the barley to become tender (but still with a bit of chew) and for most of the stock to be absorbed.
  • Pour the cheesy cashew red pepper sauce into the pot of barley and stir to combine. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Let it simmer for a couple minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sautéed broccoli to the pot and stir. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and extra black pepper if you like.
An overhead shot of an individual serving of a creamy broccoli, barley and white bean dish.
25/01/2023 (Last Updated 15/09/2023)
Posted in: autumn, broccoli, cashews, creamy, main course, refined sugar-free, salty, side dish, spring, umami, vegan, white beans, winter

29 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Nicole

    5 stars
    This was really unique and good. Just wanted to say I used walnuts instead of cashews and it came out great. Also did steel cut oats in place of barley because of a gluten allergy and it worked well! Well liked by my husband and toddler too.

  • Genevieve

    5 stars
    Wow I just discovered you, your blog and this amazing recipe today and I’m so happy I did.
    This recipe was exquisite, flavourful and perfect as is…no changes needed whatsoever. I also ordered your cookbook….I have so many already but I feel like yours was truly missing in my vegan library of cookbooks! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  • Jenn

    5 stars
    I’ve just made this and had some for lunch. As with all your recipes when I try them, it is absolutely delicious! I had to sub in millet for the barley because of a food sensitivity, and I used a can of cannellini beans, but it worked quite well! Thanks so much for your wonderful recipes, Laura!

    • Laura Wright

      Jenn,
      Millet sounds wonderful in this! Thanks for your comment and review :)
      -L

  • Kelli Cardaras

    5 stars
    I liked this so much, I went straight to Amazon and ordered your book. It’s so beautiful! I can’t wait to dive into the recipes. Thank you!

    • Laura Wright

      I so appreciate this comment and your support of my book, Kelli!
      Thank you,
      L

  • Emily

    This looks delicious, but I can’t tell what kind of beans you’re using. There are a few varieties of pale-colored beans for which people use the term ‘white beans’ interchangeably, do you mean cannellini, navy, or the anonymous ‘small white beans’ I occasionally see in supermarkets?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Emily,
      Any of those types that you listed will work fine here. It’s not an overly fussy recipe and all of those varieties have similar, slightly creamy characteristics that work nicely here. In these photos, I have navy beans.
      -L

  • sue

    5 stars
    This made a great dinner for the family. Thanks Laura!

  • Monica

    5 stars
    I’m late to this party but I made this tonight and it was gorgeous! My kids loved it too! The only change I made was using 4 cups of broth instead of 5 because I wanted a thicker consistency but it thickens as it cools so there wasn’t actually any need. Perfection!

  • Laura

    4 stars
    One of my goals for the year is to make every recipe you put out in 2023! When I saw this recipe I knew that I’d instantly love it. Its so well-rounded, flavorful and feels like comfort food. Will be adding this to the winter rotation.

  • Kaley

    5 stars
    This was such a perfect dinner for a snowy night! I think I like barley risotto more than actual risotto now! The sauce is so flavorful, savory and satisfying and loved how the lemon brightens everything. We had this with the pizza night salad and it was such a great combo! Will make again very soon.

  • Lydia

    5 stars
    This was an awesome tasting recipe. The sauce is heavenly, I can imagine using the sauce with other vegies/starches as well!

  • Caitlin

    3 stars
    I made this with farro, and although I enjoyed the end result, a couple of notes: 5 cups of liquid/broth was way too much — it took forever to cook down and the grains got mushy. The cheesy sauce is DELICIOUS — but it got lost in the final product when I mixed it in, which was disappointing. It tasted more generically broth-y than cheesy. I will definitely make it again, but will reduce the liquid by at least a cup, and also even double the sauce to amp up its flavour in the final dish.

    • Niall

      Seconded! Had this exact issue when I made it tonight; it came out like a slightly watery stew. Still v tasty tho!

      • Laura Wright

        Hi Niall,
        Did you also make the recipe with farro instead of barley? Just curious!
        -L

        • Niall

          Hi Laura! No, I used pearl barley. However I did use Oatly’s “creamy oat” instead of making the cashew cream, so not sure did that mean extra liquid for it in comparison? The dish was actually much better the second day after everything set a bit more overnight in the pan (and was still delicious both nights regardless!)

  • Sophie

    5 stars
    This was delicious, such unique flavors!

  • kate s

    5 stars
    This was so good! I always forget how much I love barley, thanks for the reminder. The sauce is so delicious I could drink it!

  • Natalie

    5 stars
    Great dish! So cheesy – it’s unbelievable there is no cheese in it. Healthy comfort food at it’s best.

  • Emma

    This looks so good! I have whole farro at home. Any suggestions on how to modify to use whole farro? More liquid and simmering time?

    • Laura Wright

      If you have time to soak the farro overnight (drain before cooking), you should be able to proceed with the recipe without any modifications.
      -L

  • Lisa

    5 stars
    This was super delicious and really satisfying.

  • Jessie

    5 stars
    Wow–this sauce is totally amazing. I didn’t have cashews so used 1/4 cup almonds and ~3 TBSP tahini. I can’t wait to put it on everything. I made my broccoli oven roasted–sooooo good.

  • Sarah

    5 stars
    This is absolutely amazing! I’m actually going back for a second bowl right now, it’s so so so good. I ended up adding another head of broccoli (you can never have too much broccoli!). Perfection!

  • Jack

    5 stars
    This Cheesy Vegan Broccoli & Barley recipe with White Beans is a delicious and healthy vegetarian dish! The combination of ingredients makes for a creamy, flavorful dish that is sure to satisfy. Loved your recipe!!

    – Jack from Skilletguy.com

  • Kim H

    5 stars
    This is a warm, cozy dish for winter supper on a snowy night (okay, it’s barely snowing here). Anyway, super easy and yummy. My 14 yo daughter tried it after she had finished her early dinner and wished she had eaten this delicious bowl of yum instead.

    Thanks, Laura!

  • Kelly Jenkins

    Hello- I have a celiac dude in my house. Do you have a suggestion for the best gluten free substitute for your barley in this particular recipe?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Kelly!
      I’d go with plain white rice or arborio rice, and I’d cut the vegetable stock down to 4 cups. I’ve added a note to the recipe, thanks for asking this!
      -L