I am oddly fascinated by English celebrity-chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It could just be his name, but more than this, he uses ingredients of the region, in simple, tasty dishes. I have seen his cooking shows several times and have been impressed with his use of the open fireplace to prepare his dishes.

Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall has anew cookbook, Hugh’s Three Good Things… on a plate. A small sampling-booklet of these recipes were included in last Sunday’s edition of The Guardian and this week, I am going to chronicle the recipes which tempted us on Turning Over a New Leith.

I will even provide the recipe so you can try some of these at home. Enjoy!

Barley, onions, tomatoes

Serves 4


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 150g pearl barley or pearled spelt, rinsed
  • 750ml good quality stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the roasted tomato puree

  • 2kg ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


Action Stations:

If making your own tomato puree, preheat the oven to 180°C. Lay the tomato halves, cut side up, in a single layer in a large, deep baking tray. Scatter garlic and thyme on top, tuck in the bay leaves, trickle over the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about one hour, until soft and pulpy and starting to caramelise on top. Remove and leave to cool for half an hour or so. Tip into a large sieve and run through with a wooden spoon. Discard the skin and pips. Your sauce is now ready to use. If you haven’t produced the 750 mL you need here, increase the quantity of stock to compensate.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion sauté for 8-10 minutes until soft.

Stir in the pearl barley of spelt, then add the stock and 750ml tomato puree or passata. Bring to a simmer and cook very gently, uncovered. Barley should take 30-40 minutes; spelt will on need 20-25 minutes.

Season to taste, then ladle into bowls, trickle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Tomorrow: Barnade, tomatoes, toast

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