A lemony slow cooker butternut squash and pearl barley stew – perfect comfort food.
I’ve never been much of a spring person. I love Easter, and spring flowers. I’m always itching to get back in the garden, and love spring country walks with gambolling lambs. However, as I’m preparing my Easter dinner to the sound of hail, thunder and lightning, I can’t help feeling I made a good choice – we’re having Lamb and Lentil Stew with Herby Dumplings. March is definitely still the time of year for comfort food.
Our annual Easter Saturday grand day out has in times past been an ambitious hike – this year, with a toddler in tow, it was a stroll around Brodsworth Hall and Gardens (yes, an indoor option was preferable for weather reasons….). Our other Easter Saturday tradition is a slow cooker full of yummy vegetarian food to welcome us home – it never feels right to eat meat on the final day of Lent, after the solemnity of Good Friday. And after a full day out, it’s so nice to be welcomed home by a delicious smelling dinner you just need to devour.
This year I decided to capitalise on pearl barley – a perfect slow cooker food as it takes a long time to become tender. Chuck it in the slow cooker and it is meltingly perfect after eight hours. I’ve usually eaten it to bulk out lamb stews, but this time I paired it with another perfect flavour match – lemon. The lemon rounds out the flavour of this vegan dish nicely – who needs meat for a bit of slow cooker comfort food!
This slow cooker butternut squash and barley stew was smooth and sweet, perfectly complemented by the salty tang of grated cheese and some nice crusty bread. If you’re vegan, try topping it with salted nuts. If you want it soupy add more water.
Updated on 4 August 2017
A yummy, light and sweet vegetarian stew flavoured with lemon
- 2 butternut squash
- 2 onions
- 1 large parsnip
- 1 tbsp each of ground ginger and cumin and garlic granules
- 8 oz pearl barley Just over 1 US cup
- The juice of 2 lemons
- Halve the squashes. Scoop out the seeds and cut the peel off. Cut them into small chunks and place in the slow cooker.
- Peel and dice the onions and parsnip and add them to the slow cooker.
- Juice the lemons and mix the juice in, along with the spices and pearl barley.
- Boil the kettle and add the water so the ingredients are well covered. Aim for a centimetre above the food for a risotto-thickness stew, more water for a soupier consistency.
- Cook on low for at least eight hours.