I was pleasantly surprised by the recipes I’ve tried from Alex Hely-Hutchinson’s 26 Grains. There is a lot of variety from the renowned porridge cafe. This, Roasted Sesame Veg with Pearl Barley and Cinnamon Dressing, was my first attempt. I chose it because it fit the bill for Meat Free Monday, but also because it was cheap and promised to be hearty, healthy and ‘hygge’. The idea of roasted root veggies and pearl barley is a stodgy combo indeed. Carb on carb definitely doesn’t meet my expectations of a ‘clean-eating’ cookbook’, but it did feel healthy. Maybe it was *cough* portion control.
The dish itself was delicious. The comforting savoury blandness of the barley cooked with stock and onions. The rustic sweetness of the carrots, parsnips and onions. This dish is really made by the dressing, honey sweetness, cinnamon warmth, sesame nuttiness, sharp lime and pungent garlic. The acidity of the lime cuts through the sweetness of the roots. It really is delicious and not too much of a faff to cook. The barley cooks like a risotto that doesn’t need constant stirring and the roots are just bunged in an oven. I made enough for four days but it reheats well. Although by Day 2 I was adding some leftover feta to cut through the sweetness, there aren’t many dishes not made better by cheese. As a testimony to how much I enjoyed the roasted sesame veg – I’ve made it again less than a fortnight later.
One tip, keep the dressing separate till the last minute. It loses its potency once its soaked into all the stodge. Use a reused sauce pot from a kebabby takeaway or a little mason jar if you’re that way inclined.