Saffron Beans and Barley

We all hit lulls in our cooking. Days or weeks where we are just not as excited to get in the kitchen; feeling like we are just going through the motions of putting together a meal.

Have no fear, this Persian-inspired Saffron Beans and Barley dish will wake up bored or tired taste buds. It will remind you of how amazing food can be when you can experience not one but many layers of flavors.  From the sweetness of the honey to the pop of the lemon and the nuttiness of the turmeric with the warmth of the cinnamon and nutmeg, this recipe will not disappoint.  Using half fresh and half frozen veggies with beans for the protein source, this recipe will also be light on the wallet. Although saffron is a bit pricey, this beautiful, delicate spice will last you quite a while if stored properly. A small amount lends loads of flavor.

Saffron Beans and Barley

Saffron Beans and Barley

This dish is loaded with Persian flavor in every bite. The saffron shines through but is delicately complimented by lemon, honey and spices to make the perfect broth. Rich in protein, fiber and color, this dish will not disappoint.
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Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course


  • 1 yellow squash , sliced
  • 1 zucchini squash , sliced
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper , chopped
  • 2 cups frozen green beans , defrosted
  • 1 cup frozen peas/carrots , defrosted
  • 1 (6 oz) bag fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 can white beans , rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans kidney beans , rinsed and drained

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium veggie broth , room temperature
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 1/2 large or 2 small lemons
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • Ground black pepper , to taste
  • Other: cooked barley or brown rice


  • In a large pot or wok, using 1 tbsp canola or preferred cooking oil, saute the squash, onion and bell pepper over medium heat until tender.
  • Add in frozen vegetables, spinach, parsley, and beans, cooking until spinach wilts.
  • Meanwhile, in a sauce pot over medium heat, bring white wine to a light boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until partially reduced.
  • Whisk flour and tomato paste into broth and add to wine mixture along with lemon juice, olive oil and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, whisking often.
  • To serve, top a scoop of cooked barley or brown rice with sauteed vegetables and beans.
  • Drizzle with sauce. Garnish with parsley leaves if desired.
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