This barley and vegetable bake has its roots in another old recipe from my student days. The original rice and veggie bake was an old favourite and will definitely make an appearance in a future post. However, as we fancied a good old fashioned rice pud for dessert, I decided to try barley in place of the rice. It worked well and was just the thing on a cold winter's evening. And the rice pud went down very well too.
The veggie layer had butter beans added, which made it a bit heavy. They could be omitted or substituted with some other cooked pulses or beans. Brown or green lentils would probably work well. On balance I think I would use courgettes in place of the butternut to make more of a lighter ratatouille style middle layer, but I had half a large butternut to use up from a risotto yesterday, so butternut it was.
Barley and Vegetable Bake
200g pearl barley
1l vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped quite finely
1 egg, beaten
150g (dry weight) butter beans, cooked, or easier from a can
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1" chunks
1 red or yellow pepper
1 aubergine, chopped into 1" chunks
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cheese sauce topping:
25g plain flour
100 - 150g grated cheddar
1 beaten egg
For the base layer
Sauté the onion in some olive oil until softened.
Add the barley and stir around.
Add the stock, boil fast for 5 minutes, then simmer for about 50 mins until the barley is cooked adding a bit more stock if it dries out too much during the cooking process. It should have absorbed the stock by the end, but still have some 'bite', ie al dente, not soggy. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the beaten egg. Put in the base of a large, fairly deep ovenproof dish and set aside.
For the veggie layer:
While the barley is cooking, toss the butternut, aubergine and peppers with the crushed garlic, some salt and pepper in a large baking tray. Roast at 200 c for about 30 mins until the veg is cooked and nicely browned.
Stir in the cooked beans and the tin of tomatoes.
Spread over the barley layer.
For the cheese topping:
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan
Add the flour and stir and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the milk, heating and stirring until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Allow to cool slightly, then beat in the egg. (Don't add the egg too soon or the heat of the sauce will scramble it.)
Spread over the veggie layer.
Bake at 200 c for about 20 - 30 mins until it bubbles and the topping is golden brown.
Serve with green veg or salad.