Alex Hely-Hutchinson

#1 Roasted Sesame Veg with Pearl Barley and Cinnamon Dressing – Alex Hely-Hutchinson

If you’ve read my write up on the book, you’d have read that I was pleasantly surprised by the recipes I’ve tried from 26 Grains so far. 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.

Roasted Sesame Veg with Pealrl Barley and a Cinnamon Dressing

Roasted Sesame Veg with Pealrl Barley and a Cinnamon Dressing from 26 Grains. Cracking lunchbox idea.

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.

26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson

26 Grains, that posh porridge shop in Neal’s Yard has released a cookbook.. and it’s not more than just a book of overnight oats.

26 Grains Alex Hely-Hutchinson

26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson, photographed on my Ikea rug for some added hipster texture.

Honestly, I can’t believe I bought a cookbook as virtuous sounding as Alex Hely Hutchinson’s 26 Grains. Not only bought, got excited for. The cover has gushing praise from Deliciously Ella who is far too virtuous for me. I had a brief foray into the clean-eating brigade thanks to the sugar-free Sarah Wilson. I used leek instead of lasagne; cashews instead of cream cheese and coconut oil instead of butter. Dark days indeed. 26 Grains’ stylish cover photo of a pretty, 20 something white girl fits the now archetypal clean-eating guru mold. I was already regretting being swept away with the hype.. the Neal’s Yard café and the 50k instagram followers. My cookbook collecting compulsion was in full swing when Amazon did an introductory offer for the book and I succumbed to purchase. Once it arrived, I had a flick through but the 26 Grains cookbook ended up on my dusty ‘healthy’ shelf. Oddly, I think I even recommended the book to people before I’d read it, maybe to hide my internalised shame at buying it in the first case. Was I too ‘dirty’? Too chubby? Too male? Who knows. I did eventually read it though..

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. Loads of the recipes caught my eye and I found myself bookmarking quite a few recipes. They weren’t all sparrow like portions either, I was heartily satisfied by most of the portioning. The Roasted Sesame Veg with Pearl Barley and Cinnamon Dressing is particularly delicious. Equally, the Broccolli Soup with Popped Black Rice and Crispy Kale was also delicious. Of course my favourite so far is the Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Crispy Brown Rice and Egg, but that’s a given. Zesty, garlicky, roasted brassicas are my FAVOURITE. I’ve so far picked some of the more pedestrian recipes. I don’t have a lot of the rarer grains in my bursting store cupboards and I have no room for them so I’ve stuck with what I’ve got.

I’m also yet to try a single bowl of porridge from 26 Grains. A book by a woman who rose to fame selling porridge, and I’ve not cooked anything from the Breakfast section. This is going to be rectified soon – even if it means having porridge for dinner. In the meantime, I’ve currently got a batch of the Roasted Veg and Pearl Barley cooking ready for packed lunches – honestly, it’s that tasty.

So far, so good. Apparently I should leave prejudice to Elizabeth Bennett when it comes to cookbooks. In the case of 26 Grains, I’ll have to eat my words (and my grains).