Each summer I can’t wait to get my backyard set up to enjoy the anticipated outdoor dining season. The deck becomes an extension of my indoor living, and it’s the perfect space for breakfast and dinner.

While summer may suggest casual gatherings with the typical burgers, hot dogs and plastic cutlery, let’s explore how to shake things up with three GoBarley recipes that will be a hit at your next BBQ.

Mexican Barley Salad

Burgers and steaks may reign supreme when it comes to meals from the grill; however the BBQ needs a salad your guests will savour. I like how whole grain barley upgrades summer salads from appetizer status to healthy side. I recommend this colourful Mexican barley salad, which includes corn kernels, green onions, tomatoes and a green pepper. The combination of canola oil, cider vinegar, cumin and chilli powder make a delicious dressing for this crowd pleasing flavourful salad.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
To ease prep on the day of the BBQ, prepare this salad a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it to your guests.

Mushroom Barley Burgers

These mushroom barley burgers are vegetarian friendly, and are also an appetizing alternative to the classic hamburger. I finish them off on the outdoor grill to add a smoky flavour to the already umami nutty taste of the mushroom – barley blend. Give your guests variety, and set up a garnish bar. Make sure you offer the typical lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mustard. Then add some pizzazz with gourmet cheeses, homemade fruit salsa, wasabi mayonnaise, and avocado slices.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
Make sure you plan time (about 45 minutes) to cook the barley ahead. Cook extra barley, package it in 1 cup (250 mL) containers and freeze to have on hand to add to fillings, soups and salads. Prep and measure all the other ingredients before firing up the skillet.

Barley Granola Bars

I always include healthy kid-friendly options along with games, so the grown-ups can kick back and relax at the BBQ. These nourishing barley granola bars are an easy homemade goodie that will keep the kids satisfied. As you plan the BBQ, have your kids help out in the kitchen. This recipe can be made ahead and your kids can measure the dry ingredients including the coconut, cranberries, and chocolate chips.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
Depending on where you live, barley flakes may not be available at your local supermarket. I recommend bulk stores and shopping online. And be sure to ask your supermarket manager to list barley flakes.

Here is my final recommendation to make your backyard BBQ complete. Keep everyone quenched with refreshing beverages. Use a clean wheelbarrow as cooler and pre-chill glasses in the fridge for several hours to keep drinks cool! Enjoy your BBQ and let me know which Go Barley recipe is your summertime favourite.