Aubergine, barley and miso stew

The weather here is definitely getting better but it doesn’t quite feel like we’re in full spring mode yet. There are still some evenings when a hearty, warming bowl of stew sounds very appealing.
This is a comforting wholesome dish of meltingly soft aubergine, chewy barley and tangy sweet roasted tomatoes in a rich savoury miso gravy. I love aubergine when it’s been cooked long and slow, the silky texture it takes on is just glorious. They’re also generally quite an inexpensive ingredient.
I think even the most devoted of meat eaters could get on board with the wonderful umami flavours of this hot-pot. This is a really simple but tasty dish that requires only minimal supervision, which is always a good thing.

Aubergine, barley and miso stew

Ingredients
serves 4
1 large aubergine (firm & heavy for its size)
1 red onion
150g cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
big pinch black pepper
1 tin tomatoes
2 tbsp white miso
250ml boiling water
100g pearl barley

Aubergine, barley and miso stew

Pre-heat your oven to 200°c. Halve the cherry tomatoes and cut the onion and aubergine into chunky pieces. Toss them with the oil and seasonings in a roasting tin with the unpeeled garlic. Roast the vegetables for 1 hour, tossing them halfway through cooking, so that they are just starting to brown and char a little.
Roughly chop the tinned tomatoes and add them (and any juice) to the roasted veg. Peel and crush the garlic. Transfer it all to a large casserole dish and mix in the barley. Dissolve the miso with the hot water and pour this into the dish. Cover it and return it to the oven for a further 45 minutes, until the barley is tender but still a little chewy and the sauce has thickened. Let the dish stand for 5 minutes before garnishing it with chopped parsley and serving.

Aubergine, barley and miso stew