Sesame Sage Roasted Vegetables with Barley

Today is a good day. Let me tell you why:

Top-down closely cropped shot of a large light brown serving bowl of cooked barley topped with roasted vegetables, halved cherry tomatoes, and pomegranate seeds, on an off-white cloth on top of a brown wood surface, printed with orange and white text.

AJ and I are heading up to Tahoe (California’s playground, for those of you from other states) tonight, with an overnight stop at AJ’s parents’ house.

That means we get to eat a home-cooked meal that I don’t have to make, we get to go play outside, and I get to relax a little bit more than usual.

A brown stoneware bowl filled with roasted vegetables and barley, garnished with pomegranate and yellow cherry tomatoes, on a folded beige cloth on a brown wood surface.

This is definitely not the prime time for us to be taking a vacation, but we could really use it. We’ll only be gone for a few days, so what can it hurt?

Vertical closely cropped image of a glass bowl of chopped and sliced carrots, Brussels sprouts, and fennel.

On top of the excited anticipation that I’m feeling for our upcoming trip, it’s also a good day because I made this roasted vegetable grain bowl thingamabob for dinner last night.

Overhead shot of a white rectangular ceramic baking dish at an oblique angle, filled with roasted vegetables, on a brown wood surface.

It has fennel in it. And I ate it. And I liked it.

A white, rectangular, ceramic serving dish filled with roasted carrots, fennel, and Brussels sprouts, topped with fresh sage leaves, on a brown wood background.

Holy guacamole fennel! I will be the first person to tell you that I don’t like fennel. I’m NOT a licorice fan, and when I feel like someone stuck licorice all up in my nice veggies, then I get really offended.

A hand pours a carafe of dressing onto a bowl of roasted vegetables, barley, sage, and cherry tomatoes, garnished with pomegranate arils, on a wrinkled off-white cloth napkin on top of a brown wood tabletop.

But apparently, when you roast fennel, 95% of the licorice-y-ness goes away, leaving behind just enough to actually be tasty.

Overhead vertical shot of a rustic ceramic serving bowl of roasted vegetables and barley, garnished with pomegranate arils and fresh sage, on a folded off-white cloth napkin, with a glass carafe of dressing and a serving spoon, on a brown wood surface.

I roasted the fennel with some carrots and Brussels sprouts, because these vegetables are mandatory at almost all meals served during the fall harvest season, and especially at Thanksgiving.

Vertical closeup of a light brown ceramic bowl of barley, fennel, brussels sprouts, carrots, yellow cherry tomatoes, pomegranate arils, and sage.

When they were done roasting, I tossed them with some cooked barley and drizzled a sesame sage dressing all over them.

The amount of dressing was kind of excessive. The amount of delicious was equally so.

Overhead closely cropped shot of a large earthenware bowl of roasted vegetables with barley, sage, tomato, and pomegranate.

This dish would make an amazing vegetarian or vegan main dish for Thanksgiving, or it would also be perfect as a side. Really, with a dish this simple and pretty, you just can’t go wrong.

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Overhead closely cropped shot of a large earthenware bowl of roasted vegetables with barley, sage, tomato, and pomegranate.

Sesame Sage Roasted Vegetables with Barley

  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


This is the perfect fall meal! With fennel, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, it makes a great vegetarian or vegan main dish, or could be used as a side.



For the Dish:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 bunch carrots (about 10 small or 6 medium)
  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 34 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 8 oz par-cooked barley
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • Fresh sage leaves

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (400°F if you’re using convection).
  2. Slice the tops off the fennel without cutting into the bulb itself, and cut off the base of the bulb. Slice it in half from top to bottom, then cut into 1/2″ wedges, using the center core as the pivot.
  3. Cut the carrots in half lengthwise. If your carrots are thick, cut in half lengthwise again. Aim to get all your carrots to be about the same width so they cook evenly.
  4. Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut in half through the stalk.
  5. Place all the veggies in a 9×13″ baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, then use your hands to distribute the oil. Bake for about 1 hour (50 mins for convection), tossing halfway through, until the veggies are easily pierced with a fork.
  6. While the veggies cook, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix with a fork.
  7. Also cook the barley – bring a pot of water to boil and add the barley. Cook for 10 minutes and drain.*
  8. When the veggies are done roasting, combine them with the barley, then drizzle the dressing on top. Toss a bit and serve topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and pomegranate arils. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.


Depending on the barley you use, these instructions may vary. Check the package and cook according to package directions.

Serving size is based on a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, where there are many dishes. If you are making this as a main dish, it’ll likely provide about 4 portions.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: side dish, barley, fennel, Brussels sprouts, vegan

What will you serve alongside these delicious vegan grain bowls? And how will you change up the recipe to make it your own? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!

For even more veggie goodness, some of these delicious roasted recipes should trip your trigger:

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on November 12, 2015. Last updated: December 31, 2019 at 5:36 am.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).

23 thoughts on “Sesame Sage Roasted Vegetables with Barley”

  1. This is amazing Raquel! I’d definitely finish (start?) my holiday shopping — and maybe pick up a few small things for myself as well 🙂

  2. I can’t wait to try your roasted veggies dish. I love everything about your dish except the brussel sprouts. but every holiday dinner everyone has to eat at least one brussel sprouts. So I can’t wait to try your recipe. This recipe might just change the way i feel about brussel sprouts.

    • Thanks, Debbie! I used to hate brussels sprouts, also, until I tried roasting them. They are so much better when roasted instead of steamed!

  3. I would probably start with a new selection of cookbooks and then buy some winter boots (which I really need!) and maybe find some new motivation with a few pairs of the workout pants that I always say are too expensive!

  4. Gorgeous post, Raquel! Super glad to be doing this giveaway with you. Now if you’ll excuse, I have to wipe the drool off my face after looking at these photos.

  5. This recipe looks delicious, especially the dressing!! Sesame, dijon, and Sage……YUM!! I hope you have a great time in Tahoe 🙂

  6. I often roast veggies and serve them over farro. It’s a frequent dinner for us. I was just working on my menu plan for next week, and was planning my standard veggies, but now that I’ve seen this, I’m going to switch it up a little and make your recipe. It will be a nice change….different veggies, different grain…and my kids are going to love the pomegranate seeds!

  7. Those vegetables are beautiful! I love roasted veggies and now I want to try them with barley! Have fun playing in the snow!

  8. These photos are absolutely gorgeous! We just moved from out of state, so I would definitely round out my kitchen and pantry. I’d also get a pair of non-slip winter boots for my first time living in snow!

    • Thanks so much, Nicole! Where did you move to the snow? I’ve also never lived in the snow, and it’s a dream of mine. Anyone who actually lives in the snow probably thinks I’m crazy, but I think it would be so cool! 🙂


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