This dinner is everything I could ask or hope for in a hearty cold-weather dish. Makes me wonder how I can use barley in tens of other dishes. It’s flavorful, filling, and keeps very well for leftovers. New pantry staple? Definitely.

Recipe lightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Prep Time: 40 min | Cook Time: 40 mins Serves: 4-6


  • about 1lb of uncooked bulk turkey Italian sausage or smoked Italian turkey sausage link, halved and thinly sliced.
  • 8 oz (about 1 packed) of fresh sliced button or portobello mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked barley (quick cooking is fine)
  • 1.5 cups low sodium or no-salt-added pasta sauce or marinara sauce
  • 1.5 cups (about 6 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup roasted red sweet pepper (buy in a jar or make your own)
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 2 tbspn fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried basil)
  • 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat four 12- to 14-ounce individual casseroles (or one large casserole dish) with cooking spray; set aside. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until bulk sausage (if using) is no longer pink and vegetables are tender, using a wooden spoon to break up bulk sausage as it cooks. Drain off fat.

Stir cooked barley, pasta sauce, 1 cup of the cheese, the roasted pepper, olives, and 1 tablespoon (or both teaspoons if using dried) of the basil into sausage mixture. Divide mixture among the prepared casseroles.

Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake about 10 minutes more or until heated through and cheese is melted. Top casseroles with halved cherry tomatoes and the remaining 1 tablespoon basil.


  • Add a few cups of cooked spinach for some extra greens and nutrients.
  • Omit olives if you don’t like them (my husband doesn’t) – it’ll still be tasty!
  • Can’t find bulk Italian turkey sausage? Make your own. Start with 1 lb of ground turkey and add a pre-made blend of Italian seasonings or create your own blend according to taste.