Earlier this year I asked some of you to tell me what types of recipes you wanted to see more of on the blog here. By far the most common request was for more bowls. They’re not something I make for myself at home very often, but nevertheless, ask and you shall receive! I created these winter roasted vegetable barley bowls on a recent blustery day and they were too good not to share.
There are few bad ways of using my delicious black garlic vinaigrette, but I must say that in these bowls it was rather special! That funky black garlic flavor really played well with the earthy beets and barley here. I added turmeric to my beets and butternut squash for a little brightness too.
If you want to make a grain bowl with many nutrients packed into every bite, then adding wilted spinach is an excellent way of achieving that. It takes about 5 minutes to make a batch of garlic stir-fried baby spinach, and it’s so good that I could easily eat it by itself. Be sure to thinly slice the garlic rather than mincing it as you would for most recipes. In this recipe the thin garlic slices are less likely to burn, and are enjoyable bites in the finished dish, with the raw garlic flavor mellowing out and becoming slightly sweet.
To complement this natural sweetness from the garlic and spinach, I add just a pinch of coconut sugar, but if you’d like, you can omit that to make this whole dish free of added sweetener.
Rounding out our winter vegetable barley bowls are avocado (because what bowl is complete without it?) and roasted pumpkin seeds. These bowls have textures ranging from soft, to chewy, to crunchy, and a medley of wintry flavors that are comforting without weighing you down. Since the new year is right around the corner, I figured that was appropriate 🙂
And yes, you read that right. These winter roasted vegetable barley bowls are packed with 81% of your daily iron, 200% of your daily Vitamin C, 800% of your daily Vitamin A, 70% of your daily fiber, 80% of your daily potassium, 40% of your daily calcium, and 17 grams of protein per bowl. Basically what that means is you can eat vegan snickerdoodles for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.
Roasted Winter Vegetable Barley Bowls
Turmeric-roasted beets and butternut squash; ripe avocado; garlicky spinach; crunchy pepitas; and black garlic vinaigrette make for hearty and healthy winter roasted veggie barley bowls! Naturally soy-free, nut-free, vegan. Can be gluten-free with brown rice.
For assembling the bowls:
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 3 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 large ripe avocado peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup shelled roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- black garlic vinaigrette for serving
For the turmeric roasted vegetables:
- 1 small butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 2 small beets peeled and cubed
- 1 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1/3 tsp ground turmeric divided
- salt and pepper
For the garlic spinach:
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 lb baby spinach washed and dried
- 1/8 tsp coconut sugar (optional)
Cook the barley:
Rinse the pearl barley well. Combine the barley and water or broth in a saucepan with a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover the pan, and cook until tender, stirring occasionally about 25 minutes. Add more liquid during cooking if needed, and drain any excess liquid after cooking is complete.
Cook the roasted vegetables:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two baking sheets or baking dishes. Add the cubed beets to one sheet and the cubed butternut squash to the other sheet. Divide the olive oil and ground turmeric approximately equally between them and sprinkle both generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to evenly massage the oil mixture onto the veggies.
Roast both trays of veggies in the oven until tender, swapping their oven position after about 15-20 minutes. The butternut squash may be done in 25-35 minutes, while the beets may be done in 35-45 minutes. Your results may vary.
Cook the garlic spinach:
Note: it's best to cook the spinach when the other bowl components are already completed. Make sure your spinach is very dry. Use a salad spinner if you have one.
Heat a wok or your widest skillet over high heat. Give it a few minutes to really get hot. Add the oil to the pan and swirl it around to make an even coating. Add the garlic and salt, and cook it for about 30 seconds while stirring constantly.
Add all of the spinach to the pan, and continuously stir to mix it with the oil and garlic. Add your pinch of sugar if using. Continue to stir-fry just until the spinach has wilted but is still green. Remove it from the pan right away.
Assemble the roasted winter vegetable barley bowls:
Divide the barley among 4 bowls. To each bowl, add about a quarter of the roasted vegetables and garlic spinach. Then add 1/4 of the avocado, 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds, and finally, drizzle with the black garlic vinaigrette. Serve warm.
GLUTEN-FREE: Use brown rice instead of barley. Liquid needed and cooking time will differ.
VARIATIONS: Use other types of squash, or sweet potato, instead of butternut squash. Other roasted vegetables great in these bowls include sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke), cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Other stir-fried vegetables in place of spinach could be snow peas, broccoli, bell peppers, or watercress.
Balsamic vinaigrette is a good replacement for the black garlic dressing.