These warming veggie hotpots not only look fantastic but they taste great; add some fun with the kids with a side of snowman toasties!
- To make the filling, heat some oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Once hot, cook the onions in the pan for 5 minutes
- Next, add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Stir the tomato paste into the pan, and continue cooking until it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Stir the stock, pearl barley, parsnips, carrots, celery and thyme into the pan.
- Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender and just cooked through – around 25-30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to gas 4, 180˚C, fan 160˚C.
- Divide the vegetable and barley mix between 4 pie dishes evenly with a slotted spoon.
- Carefully spoon liquid from the pan into each dish – the liquid should cover the vegetables and barley. If you do not have enough liquid left, add stock or water to top up. Leave to cool.
- With a sharp knife or mandolin, cut the regular and sweet potatoes into very thin slices.
- Get your little helpers to toss the potatoes in a bowl with the melted butter, salt and pepper. Then have the kids arrange the sweet potato and regular potato slices on each pie dish – they should create a fanned circle, alternating between the two varieties.
- Place the pie dishes on a baking tray and bake in the oven until golden on top – this should take 45 minutes – 1 hour.
- While the pie dishes are in the oven, make the toasties. Begin by spreading a thin layer of pickle onto 4 slices of bread. Grate the cheese before sprinkling it on top of the pickle, and then place 4 more slices of bread on top to make cheese and pickle sandwiches.
- Carefully put the sandwiches in a toastie maker until ready.
- Alternatively, if you don’t have a toastie maker, line a baking tray with nonstick baking paper and place the sandwiches on the tray. Cover with another sheet of paper before pressing down with another tray. Place in the oven for 20 minutes at the same temperature as the hotpots.
- Take the toasties from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Hand a snowman cutter to the kids and get them to carefully cut the toasties into shape. Keep any excess – they can be used as croutons for another dish.
- Take the hotpots out of the oven and leave to cool slightly as the dishes will be hot. Serve each with one of the snowman toasties.
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