6 December 2020

Chestnut Pesto Pearl Barley with Maple Miso Sprouts

Chestnut, black kale & herb pesto cream sauce, stirred through tender pearl barley, with the most incredible smoky maple miso sprouts - shredded, coated and crisped up to perfection in the oven.  A wonderful seasonal winter recipe, packed with goodness to pick you up and leave you feeling warm and nourished!

It's that time of year, when even in normal circumstances we'd all be feeling a little tired, chugging along, willing Christmas time to be nearer so we can wind down a little. I don't know about you but I feel like I've been busier than ever these past few months, both at work and personally, having recently moved home and I find when life has been a little manic, I crave nourishing, filling and tasty food - something that feels comforting but I know is also doing me good!

Don't let the mention of black kale (cavlo nero) in the pesto cream sauce scare you, by blanching it first, you remove lots of the bitter green vegetal flavours and instead the beautiful, fresh and fragrant parsley & sage really shine through, with brightness from the lemon and mellow garlic, stewed into the pearl barley base. The brussel sprout marinade is smoky, sweet with a little spicy kick and compliments them slight bitterness perfectly; when roasting some of the outer leaves of the shredded sprouts will fall off and go extra crispy, adding a wonderful contrast of texture to the tender barley. 

With a myriad of green veg, herbs, chestnuts and the pearl barley, it's probably no surprise to you that this recipe is pretty high in vitamins C, A and K, as well as containing generous amounts of iron, calcium, manganese and fibre and a decent amount of protein. It will leave you feeling energised and euphoric! 

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Creamy Chestnut Pesto Pearl Barley with Maple Miso Sprouts | Serves: 4 | Time: 45 mins 

You'll need

  • Blender/food processor
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Large saut√© pan (I used a cast iron)
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Colander 
  • Baking tray
  • Mixing bowl


Pearl Barley

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup white wine 
  • 2 cups veg stock
  • Salt & black pepper

Pesto Cream Sauce

  • 120g black kale (cavlo nero), stems removed
  • 180g vac packed chestnuts
  • 10 sage leaves
  • Large handful parsley, including steps (15g)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 

Maple Miso Sprouts

  • 300g Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili flakes


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and grease a large baking tray.
  2. Dice an onion and add to a saut√© pan on a medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes. Then peel and dice a carrot and add to the pan, cook for a few more minutes. 
  3. Chop the rosemary, and add to the pan with the pearl barley, bay leaves and white wine. Turn up the heat and fully reduce the wine.
  4. Then add the veg stock and reduce the heat to low, put the lid on very slightly ajar so it can vent a little and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the barley is tender. Stir a few times throughout the cooking time and ensure it doesn't boil dry. 
  5. Meanwhile, mix the marinade together for the sprouts in a mixing bowl. Chop the bottom of the sprouts off and slice each one into 4-5, then toss in the marinade, spread out on the baking tray and roast for 10-15 minutes, until charred and crisp, mixing up half way through.
  6. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the kale, cook for 2 minutes and then drain and allow the steam to evaporate.
  7. Add the remaining pesto ingredients to the blender or food processor, along with the cooked kale and blitz until smooth. Then stir into the cooked pearl barley, add a splash more water if needed or cook for a few minutes longer to thicken, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve up the pearl barley topped with sprouts, a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper and a pinch of chili flakes if you like it a little spicy and enjoy!
Cassidy xx