• Pearled barley, blistered cauliflower and chickpeas (Benito Martin)Source: Benito Martin

Caramelised roasted vegetables brightened with fresh wilted spinach, combined with hearty pearled barley, makes this comfort in a bowl.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (43 votes)


  • 100 g (½ cup) pearled barley (see Note), rinsed until the water runs clear
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ head cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 400 g Japanese pumpkin, trimmed, cut into 2-3 cm cubes
  • 400 g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bunches English spinach, roots trimmed, rinsed well
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the barley in a saucepan, cover with twice the volume of water, cover with a lid slightly ajar, bring to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer until the liquid has evaporated and steam holes appear and the grains are tender but still slightly chewy (about 40 minutes for soaked grains or 50 minutes for unsoaked grains). Remove the pan from the heat, place a tea towel underneath the lid and allow the grains to steam for 5 minutes – this will remove excess moisture and make your grains fluffy.

Toast the caraway seeds, salt and peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle.

Place the cauliflower on an oven tray, sprinkle with one-third of the caraway salt and drizzle with the oil. Spread out evenly over the tray ensuring there is space around the florets so they will roast instead of steam. Repeat with the pumpkin and chickpeas on separate trays.

Place all three trays in the oven and roast for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is blistered, the pumpkin caramelised and chickpeas crisp. Remove from the oven and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes, then drain well. Divide among serving bowls. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil and squeeze over some lemon.

Add the barley to vegetables and gently fold to combine. Spoon the mixture on top of the spinach.



• Soaking grains (especially harder grains including barley, wheat, rye and spelt) will make them easier to digest and reduce the cooking time. Place grains in a large bowl, cover with at least twice the volume of water, stir through 2 tsp whey, buttermilk or yoghurt (with live cultures) and leave at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight. Drain and cook as instructed.


Be inspired by more grain-based recipes here, thanks to Tip Top 9 Grain®.