This is a beautiful supper or brunch dish. It presents itself like a work of art, as if the garden fairy came by and dotted your serving with greens and whites when you were day dreaming. A frittata in theory, this dish becomes an almost pie – hearty in nature with a thin gorgeous golden crust that results from baking in the oven.
This oven pie uses pearl barley. I have always been fascinated by pearl barley, its grain reminding me of bleached cowrie shells that are notorious in the game of pachisi, a form of Indian ludo. Cooking pearl barley is easier than you think and like quinoa, you could have a bowl of cooked barley handy in the fridge to stir through your salads or stuff your omelettes.
The recipe is an adaptation of Alice Hart’s version from her stunning cookbook Vegetarian. I love how fuss free it is yet delicate and sophisticated in appearance. It could be had warm with a drizzle of mustard sauce or cold with a green salad. It would adapt and evolve seasonally with whatever fresh produce you would dare experiment with.
Pearl Barley And Feta Oven Pie
adapted from Vegetarian by Alice Hart
Preparation Time – 20 minutes
Cooking Time – 45 minutes
1 cup pearl barley
12-14 mint leaves
3 cups water
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 cup haloumi or goats cheese feta, cubed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cream
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sprinkling of sea salt and chili flakes (optional)
Cover pearl barley with water in a saucepan on medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and half the mint leaves. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Add the peas and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 200C (400F). In a large bowl, chop remaining mint leaves and add eggs, cream and garlic. Season with pepper and mix gently.
Place a large ovenproof frying pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Spoon barley and pea mixture in the pan and spread it out. Pour in the egg mixture, swirling the pan to distribute it evenly. Scatter haloumi or feta over the egg. Push some of the pieces down in to the egg. Cook for about 5 minutes on low heat and pop in to the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until egg has set and cheese has browned.
The cheese used for the recipe is salty, so avoid seasoning with salt in the end. Although a generous sprinkle of chili flakes works very well. I love it best warm from the oven. I used goat’s cheese feta.