Eat the Rainbow! Whole roasted veg over pearl barley

When our nutrition coach, Megan Williams, RD, told our Find Your Fit group that the American Heart Association suggests that we eat 7 – 10 cups of fruits and vegetables a day – not just the old 5-a-day – I took this as a new personal challenge. This dish is one of my favorites, and is now my go-to for making sure we top off the day with ALL the veggies we need.

This dish can make even the dullest supermarket produce sing. The quantities listed below are to serve 2 generously, as that’s what’ll fit comfortably into a standard roasting tin, but you can easily double this up as part of a veggie feast. I had leftovers and tossed them into a glass Pyrex dish with 8 eggs and we had frittata for lunch the next two days! This dish is sublimely delicious and wonderfully versatile.

To make this a true one-dish wonder, I add pearl barley under the veggies and roast them all together for an hour.


1 lb asparagus, trimmed

3 pointy peppers

6 large vine tomatoes

2 red onions, quartered

4 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp sea salt

50g pine nuts or almonds

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

25g fresh basil, roughly torn or chopped

300 grams pearl barley, rinsed

700 ml vegetable stock


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/ 375°F

2. In a large bowl tip the asparagus, red peppers, vine tomatoes, onion, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt and then use your hands to coat everything really well in the oil and salt.

3. Pour barley into the roasting tin. It should cover the bottom of the pan in in a single layer. Pour the vegetable stock over the barley. Then, arrange the vegetables on top and cover with foil.

4. Transfer to the oven and roast for 1 hour. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and return the tin to the oven to continue cooking for another 30 minutes.

5. Remove the tin from the oven – the veg should be browned all over and very soft when prodded. If not, then return to oven and broil/grill for an additional 5 – 10 minutes.

6. Remove the garlic from the tin, leaving the rest of the veg to rest. Mash the garlic and whisk it together with the lemon juice, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and another teaspoon of sea salt.

7. Using a knife and fork, remove the inedible tops and stems of the vegetables, then roughly tear/cut the softened vegetables apart.

8. Scatter over the basil and pine nuts and the dressing, then mix really well together. Serve warm. Divide evenly among 2 – 4 plates. Serves 2 as a vegetable feast and 4 – 6 people as a small main or side dish.


- This can be made without the pearl barley. Just skip those steps and do not tent the tin with foil when roasting the veg

- You can use any assortment of vegetables. The original recipe called for aubergines/eggplants (instead of asparagus) and I didn’t have aubergines and used asparagus instead. You could use courgette/zucchini too! Have fun with it!

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