Roasted Root Vegetables with Pearl Barley, Lemon and Thyme
- Pre heat a fan oven to 190 deg C.
- First pop the pearl barley on to boil; place it in a saucepan, cover generously with cold water, add a big pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce heat so it simmers till tender - about twenty minutes
- Meanwhile, cut the carrots into batons if using medium, if using baby just trim off any gnarly parts. Place in the biggest roasting tray you have.
- Do the same with the parsnips, add them to the tray. Ditto the courgettes.
- Open the packs of baby corn, give them a rinse and add to the tray.
- Cut the fennel bulbs into eights and give a really good wash, soil hides in all the crannies. Shake dry and add to the tray.
- You want to keep it a fairly even layer, not too deep. We are aiming for brown and crispy not steamed, so distribute between two trays if need be.
- Drizzle all the honey and six tablespoons of the olive oil over the vegetables.
- Season well with salt and pepper
- Tear all the leaves off the thyme and scatter the leaves over the veggies.
- Get your hands in there and mix the whole lot up. Coat everything in the sticky oily goodness.
- Wash your hands and admire your work. Place the tray in the oven.
- Cook for 10 minutes, remove the tray, give them all a good mix up. Cok for up to ten minutes more, depending on your oven. You want glossy and golden. When you are happy with the colour remove and leave to cool in the tray.
- By now the barley will be done. Drain and place in a bowl. Add in the remaining four tablespoons of oil, the zest and juice of the lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to cool. It will suck up the lemon and oil like a sponge and make a lovely dressing.
- When ready to serve just pile the veggies all on top of each other in the centre of a big bowl or platter, making sure to drizzle over all the honey and thyme juices. Mmmmmmm.
- Think jenga, big piles looks more professional and abundant than flat layers. Scatter over the pearl barley, give a last 'jush' (how do you spell that anyway) with your fingers so some of the veg is top dog again.
- Now grab a spoon and your pot of crème fraiche and get all Jackson Pollock on the platter, you want dots, dollops and splashes of the creamy sauce all over at stylish intervals. Scatter with torn chervil or parsley leaves, done!
Tastes even better made in advance, just assemble as far as the pearl barley stage, cover with a loose cling film tent and leave somewhere cool-ish to get to know each other. Fnish with the crème fraiche and herbs just before it hits the table.