From being something I picked up on a whim at the Whole Foods section of Tesco, pearl barley and I have come a long way. Cheap, tasty, and just plain interesting.
30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions (or shallots), diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g pearl barley
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch chilli flakes
700ml hot vegetable stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
handful cherry tomatoes
(optional: cream cheese to taste)
- Heat the butter and oil in a large pan. Soften the onion for 8-10 minutes, then add the garlic for a further 2.
- Stir in the barley and herbs and cook for 1 minute. Add stock, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, passata, tomato purée, and a teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5-10 more minutes, until the pearl barley is ready. Turn off heat and, if desired, stir in cream cheese.
A tasty dip, and does well in the using-up-vacuum-beetroot stakes if you’ve been intrigued enough to try the beetroot-chocolate-balls posted a few weeks ago. It does make a lot, though apparently can be frozen – I’ve got a chunk in my freezer just now and was thinking of playing around with it for bean-burger-patty type things. You’ll hear from me if that works out; otherwise we can just pretend I never said anything, ok?
250g beetroot (vacuum-packed surely? but boil the raw stuff if you want…), roughly chopped
400g can chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
- Blend everything together in a food processor or with a hand blender.
- Serve swirled with a little yoghurt, some toasted cumin seeds, and some crusty bread.
So I’ve been lax with my blog-posting for a while, mainly because I’ve gone on a paleo journey that eschews all artificial forms of applying heat to food and consists mainly of shooting a passing woolly mammoth with a hand-carved bow and arrow.
Or maybe not.
But I was intrigued by this recipe for “protein balls”, and they were tasty – just watch out because the longer you leave them the longer they actually taste like beetroot, which I found odd in a dessert.
75g (2/3 cup) rolled oats
1 cooked, cooled beetroot (about 75g)
125g (1/2 cup) peanut butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon skimmed milk powder or protein powder
Coconut, cocoa powder, milled linseeds etc… for rolling
- In a food processor, whiz the oats until they are fine. Add all other ingredients and combine. Roll into teaspoon-sized balls, roll in coconut, cocoa etc… and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
I’ve come across some dodgy undercooked aubergines in my day, and always got slightly weirded out by instructions telling you to salt them to take the bitterness out first. And maybe one day I’ll find a recipe for cooking them that doesn’t involve a fair whack more oil than seems healthy, but in the mean time these taste so good that I don’t really care.
(serves 2 as meals, or 4 as starter)
1 large onion, finely sliced vertically
1 red pepper, chopped and seeded
3 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
150ml olive oil
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
- Halve the aubergines lengthways. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse off the salt and juices, pat dry and place the halves side by side, flesh side up, in a wide saucepan.
- Mix the onion, tomatoes, pepper, garlic and herbs in a bowl with 1 tsp salt and a little of the oil.
- Carefully pile the mixture on top of each halved aubergine until all the flesh is covered.
- Mix the rest of the oil with the water, lemon juice, and sugar and pour it over and around. Cover the pan and cook gently over a low heat for 1 1/2-2 hours.
- Baste occasionally with the oil, pushing the onion and tomato mixture down into the halves as they cook. The aubergines should end up soft and flat, sitting in a golden, slightly caramelised pool of oil.
- Drain off the oil and serve cold – keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.
Not the most inspiring of pictures, peut-etre, but them’s the apples. Or in this case, sweet potatoes. Now that I bought pearl barley, it needs to be used up…
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
175g pearl barley
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm slices
100g green beans (pref fresh, but frozen work)1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2tsp runny honey
1tsp wholegrain mustard
- Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion, garlic, chilli and rosemary for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the barley and 600ml boiling water. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and simmer for a further 10 minutes, then add the beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes, until all is cooked.
- Whisk the vinegar, honey, and mustard together and pour over. Chill until ready to serve.
There doesn’t seem to be an end to all of the things that can be made with squash… this was a particularly tasty curry.
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cl garlic, diced
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cut into short strips
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and rough cut into 2cm cubes
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
400ml coconut milk
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large pan and soften the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli, and red pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the coriander and garam masala and stir for a minute, then add the squash and tomatoes. Cook for a further 5 mintues.
- Add the coconut milk and raisins and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Add water if necessary.
- Add the lemon juice and season. Enjoy with rice or naan.
This post goes out to anyone that hasn’t eaten chocolate in the past 40+ days… Happy Easter tomorrow, everyone! “For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die.But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood,we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.”
Now I feel slightly flippant talking about chocolate. But God is the creator of all good things which I think definitely includes this delicious dessert!
1 pack (about 300g) chocolate cream / bourbon biscuits
1 tbsp cocoa
125g + 125g butter
150g brown sugar
75ml + 250ml double cream, room temperature
300g dark chocolate chips (or bars broken up)
salt for sprinkling
- Crush the biscuits, and melt 125g of the butter then stir in. Press into a deep spring-form or removable-bottom pan, pushing up the sides to make it hollow in the middle. Put in fridge or freezer for 15-30 minutes.
- Melt the remaining butter and sugar in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, until it comes to boil. When it’s bubbling, keep whisking for 1 minute then remove from the heat, and slowly whisk in 75ml of cream.
- Cool caramel about 15 minutes then pour into the pie crust. Freeze or fridge for 30-45 minutes.
- Make the ganache: heat the remaining cream in a pan until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes then stir until all the chocolate has melted.
- Pour the chocolate over the caramel and smooth out the top to evenly distribute the chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve – just before serving, sprinkle with sea salt.
I was going to call this a “toss pot” because it essentially involves tossing the ingredients about in a pot, but then became distracted by the etymology of the phrase. Urban dictionary, for the curious among you. Anyway, this is an adaptation of a “wild rice skillet recipe” that I found online. Mostly because when I went to the shops I discovered that wild rice would set me back £4 while pearl barley was a mere 55p for the same quantity. And I thought the name sounded pretty. It was interesting: chewier than rice, though that might just have been the way I cooked it (and, from the back of the packet, it needed to be cooked for slightly longer, so I did). I found it slightly bizarre that the squash needs to be sautéd rather than cooked in liquid, but it seemed to work ok.
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
¼ teaspoon dried thyme (more to taste)
250g pearl barley, cooked according to instructions on packet
2 cups kale, shredded
2 cups chopped (crispy juicy unpeeled) apples
2 tablespoons cream, milk, or butter
½ cup grated Provolone cheese (I subbed a cheddar / parmesan mix)
salt to taste
- Sauté the onion and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the squash and thyme; sauté for 5-8 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender but not mushy. Add the kale and pearl barley and stir to combine. Add the cream, milk, or butter.
- Add the apples last so they stay crispy. Add the cheese and stir a few times to get it melted into the ingredients.
I’ve found a new favourite way to eat tinned peaches (yes, even better than peach pasta. I know, pretty unbelievable that anything could be better than that. But bear with me…).
It’s really simple but also delicious: pour a tin of peaches in a saucepan (half them first if you like), sprinkle some ground cloves and dark muscovado sugar on top to taste, stir, and stir in 4-5 frozen raspberries if you have them lying around. Leave it on the heat to reduce away and the syrup to thicken. Top with ice-cream. Et voilà. Serves 2.
Of course you can also make this with actual peaches, but they’re not in season at the moment.
Re. the importance of cloves – The Flavour Thesaurus is one of my favourite cookbooks ever and is so useful for knowing what will go well with what! So when I was curious as to what spice to spice my peaches with, this informed me that cloves and peaches go well together, and indeed they do.
First time making lasagne, you say? Make up a recipe, you say? Is a delight of tomatoey, saucy, iron-y, vegetarian delectable goodness, you say? Omnomnomnomnom.
Nah seriously though, this is très tasty. I enjoy a saucy lasagne, particularly in view of the fact that I made this for lunchtimes so wanted it to survive the drying nature of reheating, so you might want to bear that in mind re. the extra water mentioned below. Though I was also slightly paranoid about the lasagne sheets not cooking enough as some sites seemed to advise pre-cooking them, but last time I tried that it turned into a big gloopy stuck-together mess not at all conducive to layering. So I just added water and cooking time.
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
400ml (ish) passata
1 tsp chopped garlic
Salt, pepper, Italian herbs to taste
- Place sauce in pan with water and bring to the boil (or roast)
- Once soft (10-15 mins), drain and place in food processor, then chop with garlic and passata so it forms a purée
- Pour back into pan and add 1 cup water; cover and simmer 10-15 minutes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
500ml milk, heated
125g cream cheese
250g frozen spinach
Salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- Melt the butter in a pan, then whisk in plain flour.
- Add milk, little at a time, until it’s all been combined into a smooth sauce
- Add the other ingredients and stir, heating gently until the frozen spinach balls break up
Assembly – additional ingredients
6-8 lasagne sheets
1-2 cups water
Grated cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella to taste
- Layer 1/3 of the squash/tomato filling, 1/3 of the creamed spinach, then half of the lasagne sheets. Pour a little water over the top.
- Layer the remaining squash/tomato filling, creamed spinach, then scatter cheese over the top.
- Bake in a pre-heated 185oC oven for 30-45 minutes