This fiber-packed side dish makes a comforting and impressive addition to any meal. We've used hulled (also called dehulled) barley, which is less processed, chewier and takes longer to cook than pearl barley. Both varieties work for this recipe (though pearl barley, while still healthy, is not considered a whole grain). Or substitute brown rice, farro or your favorite whole grain.
Bring the barley, 3 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the barley is chewy but tender, about 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the bacon in a single layer to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain; reserve the bacon drippings in the skillet.
Return the skillet to medium heat and melt the butter in the bacon drippings. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Add the peas and stir until heated through, about 1 minute.
Drain any excess liquid from the barley. Stir the barley into the onion-pea mixture. Stir in the dill, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the bacon.
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