This healthy weeknight dinner of baked lentils and barley topped with slabs of browned feta is a comforting winter warmer.
I cannot get enough of those browned and crispy layers of feta 😍
This is such a good winter comfort food meal. It's got those hearty lentils baked in a rich tomato sauce with chewy pearl barley.
Once everything is tender it's all topped with slabs of feta then returned to the oven until the feta is browned and crisp on top and the salty richness is cooked out slightly and everything is gooey and delicious.
I like this served with a green salad and maybe some crusty bread to scoop everything up and soak up any extra sauce.
Why we love this recipe...
This is a great main course which is packed with flavour and is super filling which is just what you need at this time of year!
If you'd like to make this recipe vegan/vegetarian then you can leave out the anchovies and the feta and the baked lentils and barley will still be delicious!
If you want to up the veg count in this recipe you can definitely add your choice of vegetables to the dish. Spinach or kale would work well wilted through the sauce before baking or even something like broccoli could work cooking in the sauce along with barley and lentils.
Alternatively, you can add proteins like cooked chicken, sausage or another meat of your choice.
This section is here to provide further tips and ideas for alternative ingredients. The full recipe and instructions are included in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
Tomato Sauce: This sauce is a mixture of onion, garlic, chilli flakes, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, anchovies and vegetable stock. I highly recommend including the anchovies even if you think you don't like them, you can't taste fishiness in the final sauce but it gives that umami tastiness.
Pearl Barley and Lentils: These are cooked straight in the sauce while baking. I like to go with red lentils because they melt into the sauce while adding bulk.
Feta: This is added in slabs before returning to the oven to get nice and melty and browned. If you don't like feta you could use halloumi instead.
How to make it
Make the sauce: Fry the onions in the olive oil with plenty of salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes then add the garlic and chilli flakes followed by the tomato puree and anchovies. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Finish the sauce: Add the tomatoes, stock and thyme to the sauce. Stir through the cherry tomatoes, lentils and barley then pour the mixture into a baking dish and cook for 40-50 minutes.
Add the feta: Cut the feta into slabs and top the dish with the them. Return to the oven and cook under the grill until browned and melty.
Do you have to soak lentils before cooking them?
You don't need to soak the red lentils for this recipe before cooking them.
Want more? Try these other lentil recipes!
- Spicy Lentils with Paneer and Caramelised Squash
- Veggie Chilli with Lentils and Sweet Potato
- Spicy Lentil Soup with Coconut
- Cauliflower Lentil Curry with Cauliflower
- Instant Pot Mujaddara
Baked Lentils & Barley with Feta
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 large Onion chopped
- 6 cloves Garlic chopped
- ½ teaspoon Chilli Flakes
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 tablespoon Tomato Puree
- 2 jarred Anchovies
- 2 400g tins Chopped Tomatoes
- 600 ml Vegetable Stock
- 100 g Cherry Tomatoes
- 2 sprigs Thyme
- 190 g Pearl Barley
- 100 g Red Lentils
- 300 g Feta
- Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. In a saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and plenty of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and chilli flakes, cook for another minute. Add the tomato puree and anchovies, cook for a couple of minutes until the anchovies have melted into the tomato puree.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, stock and thyme to the pot. Stir through the cherry tomatoes followed by the lentils and barley. Pour the mixture into a baking dish (it will be watery at this point). Put the dish in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until the lentils and barley are tender.
- Cut the feta into rectangles and then cut in half lengthways so that you have slabs of the cheese. Remove the dish from the oven and set the oven to grill (broil) at a high temperature.
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