Recipe and photograph – Dr Joan Ransley

This great one pot meal is made mainly from store cupboard ingredients and is ideal for weekday suppers. It can also be made in advance and reheated.

Plants are important ingredients for the health of the gut. They contain dietary fibre, complex carbohydrates and phytochemicals which act like  ‘fertiliser’ in the gut helping healthy bacteria to thrive and become more diverse.

Pearl barley is a whole grain containing dietary fibre. Olives are a fermented food rich in lactobacillus and polyphenols which also promote the health of the gut.


Heat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 7. Put one tablespoon of oil into a large, ovenproof pan for which you have a lid, and heat gently. Add the onion and cook until softened and browned slightly. Add the garlic and chilli, if using, and cook for a minute more before stirring in the capers, half the preserved lemon and olives, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, pearl barley and 450ml water. Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer, cover and cook for ten minutes. Remove the lid and add the orzo, transfer the pan to the oven for 20 minutes. Lift the lid off the pan and check the orzo and pearl barley is cooked. If not cook a for a little longer. Add a little more liquid if required.

Haphazardly top the mixture with the sliced tomatoes, sprinkle over the cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, for 10 -12 minutes, or until bubbling and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining olives, preserved lemon and torn basil. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper and serve straight from the pot.

Cooks tip

To make your own quick version of preserved lemons: thinly slice two washed, unwaxed lemons. Cover with a tablespoon of salt and leave for 30 minutes. Pack the slices, plus the salty juices, into a small sterilised glass jar and cover with a layer of olive oil. The lemons will be ready to use after a day and for up to one month after the jar has been opened.


A can of tuna and a few anchovies can be added to this dish if you are not looking for a vegetarian option.

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 Per Serving (309g)Per 100g
Calories (kCal/KJ)398 / 1673129 / 542
Protein (g)134.3
Fat (g)123.8
Saturated Fat (g)3.11
Carbohydrate (g)5618
Sugar (g)8.82.8
Fibre (g)4.21.4
Sodium (mg)494160
Salt equivalent (g)1.20.4
FODMAPsBoth garlic and onions are high in fructans. Use garlic oil if sensitive to whole garlic. Use the green leaves of salad onions or young leeks instead of onions. 28g pearl barley is low in FODMAPs. 112g cooked pearl barley contains a moderate amount of FODMAPs
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