Underrated barley is highly versatile, used in everything from refreshing summer drinks and salads to wintry stews and rustic baking.

Barley is used traditionally the cuisines of countries as diverse as Morocco and Scotland. It is sold in various formats including grains and flours, though you may need to seek some types out in specialist stores.

Confusingly, many brands of pearled barley have had some but not all of the bran removed - this is important because it substantially effects the cooking time, increasing it to around an hour.

Barley flour is a sweet and mellow addition to cakes, breads, biscuits and crackers. Polished barley grains make a good alternative to rice in risotto.

Pot barley is excellent boiled in water or stock and served as part of a grain salad. Use the drained cooking water to make lemon barley water. Add a handful of pot or pearled barley to soups and stews, particularly rich mixtures based on lamb or chicken.