Yotam Ottolenghi's Barley, Tomato and Watercress Stew

A hearty yet fresh-tasting stew from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR, this one-pot recipe combines pearl barley, cherry tomatoes, and caramelised kohlrabi.

From the book

Ottolenghi FLAVOUR by &
Ottolenghi FLAVOUR
A guide to unlocking the complex flavour in simple vegetables
With a focus on creative cooking processes and clever ingredient pairing
Including recipes for everything from midweek meals to weekend feasts

Introduction

Mostly eaten raw, kohlrabi isn’t the first vegetable you would think to roast. We’d love you try, though, because, in the process, it morphs into a gloriously caramelised golden-brown version of its former self. We use it here to spoon over a rich barley stew, resulting in a one-pot meal which is light enough for a summer’s evening but also warming when the temperatures start to drop.

Vegans, vegetarians and those who don’t like too much heat are welcome to make this stew without the anchovies (increase the salt if you do that) or cream, or with less or no chilli. There is still plenty going on to keep everyone jolly.

This dish is not at all complicated to make, as long as you are okay cooking three things simultaneously: roasting the vegetables that go on top of the barley, boiling the barley itself and preparing the aromatics that flavour the stew. They are all super easy and come together simply at the end.

Serves 4 as a main

Ingredients

4 small kohlrabi (1kg)
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and finely chopped (optional, but adjust seasoning if not using)
140ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large head of garlic, top fifth cut off to expose the cloves, plus 4 extra cloves, crushed
300g sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes (such as Datterini)
300g pearl barley
2–3 banana shallots, finely sliced (120g)
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 lemons: finely shave the skin of 1 to get 5 strips and juice to get 2 tbsp, then cut the remainder into wedges to serve
1 red Scotch bonnet chilli (optional)
3 tbsp tomato paste
150ml dry white wine
100g watercress
60ml double cream (optional)
salt and black pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C fan.


2. Trim and peel each kohlrabi, then cut lengthways into eight wedges. You want the wedges to be about 2½cm wide, so if the kohlrabi is particularly large, you may need to cut it into more wedges. Put the wedges into a large bowl and toss together with the anchovies (if using), 2 tablespoons of oil, half the crushed garlic, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Spread out on a large, parchment-lined baking tray. Drizzle the garlic bulb with a little oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Wrap the bulb tightly in foil, place in one corner of the kohlrabi tray and roast for 25 minutes. Turn the kohlrabi wedges, add the tomatoes to the tray around the kohlrabi, then return to the oven for another 15–20 minutes, or until the kohlrabi wedges are soft and a deep golden-brown and the tomatoes are blistered. Keep warm (or warm up when you serve).


3. When cool enough to handle, remove the foil from the garlic and squeeze the cloves out into a small bowl, discarding the papery skin.


4. While the vegetables are in the oven, put the barley into a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and place on a medium-high heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the barley is semi-cooked but still retains a good bite. Drain and set aside.


5. While the barley is simmering, place a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, on a medium-high heat with 50ml of the oil, the cooked and remaining crushed garlic, the shallots, caraway seeds, lemon strips, Scotch bonnet (if using) and 2½ teaspoons of salt. Gently fry for 12 minutes, stirring often, until the shallots are soft and golden-brown. Turn the heat down to medium if the shallots are colouring too quickly. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook for 30 seconds before adding the wine, 500ml of water and plenty of pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat and cook for 7 minutes, then add the cooked barley and continue to cook for 10 minutes, until the barley has swollen a little and taken on the flavour of the sauce. Discard the Scotch bonnet and lemon strips.

6. In a spice grinder or the small bowl of a food processor, blitz half the watercress with the lemon juice, the remaining 60ml of oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt to get a smooth salsa.


7. Transfer to a large serving bowl or serve straight from the pan: drizzle the watercress salsa and cream (if using) over the barley and gently swirl them in. Top with the fresh watercress, the roasted kohlrabi and the roasted tomatoes. Serve hot, with the lemon wedges alongside.

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