Another week, another meal required to cook itself. I really must find Kipper some extra-curricular activities that don’t take place in the hour before dinner time.
Perhaps because of the weather, I’d had a yearning for barley. It’s so yummy and warming and wintery. I wasn’t entirely sure how I could concoct something with it that would cook itself in a pre-set oven in my absence, but then I remembered my rainbow quinoa bake. Thus inspired, I rummaged in the fridge and found a selection of vegetables (well, spinach and mushrooms) to turn it into dinner.
This was pretty easy to cook and assemble – I prepared and cooked the vegetable components while the barley was simmering, then mixed everything together, put it in the dish, and organised the toppings. Simple.
I’m always a bit neurotic that the automatic-oven-switcher-on function will fail me, although so far it has never let me down. And it didn’t let me down this time either. We got home to a bubbling, crispy dish of deliciousness and tucked in without further ado.
DH is not a big barley fan, although he said that this was, “quite good….for barley.” I think that counts as approval. Kipper liked the barley part but wasn’t keen on the tomato topping. This wasn’t a surprise – tomatoes are one of the few foods she’s never really got on with. At one point though, DH caught himself saying, “Don’t just pick out the spinach – you need to eat the rest, too.” But everyone says that to their pre-schooler, right?
We ate this whole dish of yummy, cheesy, mushroomy, spinach & barley bake between the three of us. We would probably have eaten more if there had been more. I’d say this serves 2.
- 120g pearl barley
- 1-2 tsp stock powder (optional)
- 250g spinach
- 2 small or 1 medium onion
- 100g mushrooms
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 0.5 tsp dried thyme
- 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 150g cherry tomatoes
- 55g grated cheddar cheese
- Place the barley and stock powder in a large pan with about 1.5l water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the barley is tender. Drain.
- Remove the stems from the spinach and wash and shred the leaves. Peel and slice the onions. Quarter or halve the mushrooms.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes to soften, then add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach by handfuls and allow to wilt before stirring in and adding more. Season with the thyme and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Add the vegetable mixture to the barley in a large bowl, and stir in the eggs. Pour into a baking dish and level the top.
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters and arrange over the top of the barley mixture, then sprinkle over the cheese. Bake at 180C for 35 minutes until hot throughout, golden and crispy.
With spinach, mushrooms, onion and cherry tomatoes, this surely deserves a place in Extra Veg, hosted by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy and co-organised by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.
I’m also entering it into this month’s Family Foodies, organised by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, which is looking for “healthier child-friendly recipes”.