Winter Vegetable Hotpot

Deliciously nutty pearl barley with chunky carrots, swede and leeks in a herb infused stew, topped with slices of crispy golden potato. The pearl barley gets all fat and plump from absorbing all the lovely stock and the veg gets all sweet and yumptious. Just what you need on a cold winter’s night to warm the cockles.

By leaving the skins on the carrots and potatoes you make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals, which will help you fight off any nasty bugs that might be going around at this time of year.

If you haven’t got a pot with a lid or if you won’t have a chance to remove the lid half way through, do not fret, you could leave the lid off the whole way through but I just haven’t tried that myself yet (I’d maybe add a bit more stock as it will evaporate otherwise and leave your veg and barley all dry). If anyone tries the lidless option then do share the love.

This recipe is so easy to make and it uses all the gorgeous winter veg that is so cheap at the moment cos it’s in season. Yes ladies and gentlemen this gorgeous, easy, healthy, seasonal recipe is also just 75p a go.

Serves 4 :: 250 calories per serving* :: 75p per serving* :: 30 mins prep :: 60 mins cook :: lazy leftovers

3 carrots
3 leeks
1 swede
4 potatoes
140g pearl barley
2 stock cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried bay leaves (crushed)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp butter
0.5-1 tsp sea salt (a generous pinch to suit your tastes)

1. Heat the oven to 200c. Put 1tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan that has a lid and heat over a low heat on the hob.
2. Wash and chop the leeks, then add them to the pan followed by the chopped carrots (leaving skins on). Peel the swede, chop and add to the pan.
3. Boil a pint of water in the kettle and make up a pint of vegetable stock using the vegetable stock cubes. Meanwhile add 1tsp each of bay leaves, rosemary, oregano and sea salt to the pot. Pour the stock over the top and turn up the heat underneath until simmering. Measure and add the pearly barley, ensuring all the grains are submerged so they cook (add more water if necessary).
4. Slice the potatoes (leave skins on) so they are about 1cm thick and lay them on top of the stew, overlapping each other in an ever decreasing circle until the stew is covered. Add a couple of small knobs of butter to the top, put the lid on and bung in the oven for 1hr. About half way through remove the lid to get a lovely crispy golden finish on the potatoes. Divide into 4 portions and serve (add a piece of bread and butter for an extra 150 calories).

* These figures are approximate and are based on averages.