Tender, buttery carrots and sweet, melting garlic cloves, served over comforting barley, for an easy vegetarian family-friendly dinner.
We have a small vegetable bed in our back garden, and in the summer we grow our own tomatoes, beans, courgettes, cucumbers and assorted other vegetables and herbs. It’s quite fun, they taste amazing, and my daughter Kipper enjoys mucking about in the soil, watering the plants, and of course picking and eating the resulting produce.
Home grown dinners
Last summer, my Mum helpfully gave me a copy of the lovely book Home-grown Harvest, which is described as ‘delicious ways to enjoy your seasonal fruit and vegetables’. It is packed with fabulous and inspiring recipes and ideas. I’ve also enjoyed leafing through and admiring the terrific photography in the book, as well as cooking from it.
However, some of the recipes need… tweaking. Ahem.
Adjust to your taste…
This one started life in the book as ‘roasted carrots with barley risotto’. I made it as written the first time, but some of the measurements seemed to be way out. In particular, their recipe only calls for 2 cloves of garlic between 4 people. What?! Half a clove each? The garlic is what MAKES this dish. It becomes soft, sweet, mellow, buttery… You can mash it into the barley or just munch the cloves straight from the pan. Only two cloves? Wrong. As you can see, I’ve upped the amount slightly.
I’ve made one or two other changes too, that I won’t bore you with. I do encourage you to check out the book though, if you get a chance. I’m looking forward to next summer’s harvest when I can try out a load more of the recipes in it.
As we were eating this, Kipper suddenly announced, “I LOVE carrot fills!”
What’s a carrot fill? asked DH and I in unison.
“What it is, is, you get carrots, and then you cut them up, and then you fill your mouth up with them. That’s carrot fills.”
Pretty sure she liked this. Serves 2 bigs and a small.
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Butter-braised carrots and garlic with barley
- 150 g pearl barley (¾ cup)
- 500 ml vegetable stock (2¼ cups)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500 g carrots (approx. 18 oz.)
- 12 garlic cloves - or just use a whole bulb
- 50 g butter - divided (¼ cup)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- Bring the stock and soy sauce to the boil with an additional 500ml (2¼ cups) water in a large pan. Add the barley, and simmer, covered, for 45-60 minutes until well cooked.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots and cut into 5-8cm (2-3 inch) chunks. Then halve/quarter the pieces lengthwise depending on their thickness.
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium-high flame, and cook the carrots for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until they turn golden. (Ideally, you'll fit all the carrot pieces in a single layer.)
- Peel the garlic and add the whole cloves to the pan, with the thyme, 2 tbsp of the butter, a few grinds of black pepper, and 125ml (½ cup + 1 tbsp) of water.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots and garlic cloves are soft and the liquid has reduced to a buttery syrup.
- Drain any excess liquid from the barley and stir in the remaining butter. Serve topped with the carrots and garlic, with the pan juices spooned over.
If you love carrots, you’ll probably also enjoy roasted carrots with orange and ginger or vegan parsnip and carrot kugel. If barley’s your thing, check out this baked barley risotto with butternut squash, or this delicious barley salad with creamy tahini dressing.
Because it elevates the humble carrot into something incredible, I’ve entered this recipe into the ‘In my VEG BOX – carrots’ recipe challenge.