Barley risotto with pistachios and raisins

Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!

This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)Barley_pistachio&raisin_risotto
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 200g pot barley
  • 1000ml vegi stock
  • Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • Black pepper to taste

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
  • 60g yogurt
  • A pinch of sumac
  • ½ tsp harissa

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).

Harissa baked shallots with feta yogurt dressing

Harissa_shallots_tile

Enough for 2:

  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 echalion shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 100g low-fat natural yogurt
  • Leaves from 6 sprigs of mint (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • Black pepper
  • 50g wild rocket
  • 4 wholemeal flour tortillas

Mix the harissa and the olive oil in a large bowl. Add the shallots so they are completely coated with the olive oil mix. Arrange in a baking dish and place in the oven 160C (Gas Mark 3) for about 50 minutes, or until soft but still holding their shape.

Meanwhile, mash together the feta and the yogurt in a bowl. Stir in the mint and sumac, and season with black pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Warm the tortillas in the oven for about 2 minutes.

To eat, spread some of the feta dressing on a tortilla with rocket and some of the shallots. Then roll up the tortilla.

Enjoy!

Moroccan mushrooms with couscous

This is based on a recipe I found on the BBC GoodFood website. Enough for 2:

Mushroom_chickpeas

  • Oil
  • 150g mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ 410g tin chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 90g couscous
  • ½ tsp harissa
  • 3 soft dried apricots (diced)
  • 20 raisins
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 130ml boiling water
  • Flat parsley (roughly chopped)

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and stir constantly over a high heat until they start to soften. Set aside.

Heat a 1 tbsp oil in another saucepan. Gently cook the onion 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cinnamon, cumin and chilli flakes, and cook for 1 min. Then stir in the tomatoes, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix ½ tbsp. of oil and the harissa and stir into the couscous (in a bowl). Stir in the dried apricots, raisins and pin nuts. Pour over the boiling water, stir and then cover. Leave to stand for 7 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

When the tomato mixture has simmered for 15 minutes, stir in the mushrooms, the chickpeas and honey. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

To serve, fluff up the couscous with a fork, and serve with the mushroom mixture, scattered with parsley.

I served this with some green beans.

 

Another tuna lunchbox

Tuna_Lunchbox

No beetroot today.

This one consists of spicy tuna salad (omit the red kidney beans; add some black olives – enough for two servings), carrot sticks (they also serve as a barrier between the two salads), and little gem lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and fresh coriander salad).

Rice salad lunchbox

Rice_salad_lunchbox

This used up the remaining red kidney beans and left-over brown rice from the chipotle prawns.

Rice salad made with cooked brown rice, red kidney beans, spring onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, harissa, olive oil and vinegar.

Also cherry tomatoes, beetroot and celery, and carrot sticks.

Couscous

Couscous_lamb_tagine

We finished the remaining Lamb Tagine with couscous and wilted spinach. Here is the couscous recipe – enough for 2-3:

  • 120g couscous
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Boiling water

Put the couscous into a bowl. Mix in the harissa and olive oil.

Add boiling water so that it just covers the couscous. Stir and cover, and leave for 5 minutes. Fluff-up with a fork. When you are almost ready to serve, steam (in (metal) sieve) over a pan of boiling water, until piping hot. NB. don’t try microwaving couscous it will go lumpy!

Couscous_tile

There was enough couscous left over to make a salad for a lunch box. I microwaved a small quantity of diced onion, yellow pepper and sun-dried tomato, with a small amount oil for 50 seconds at 750W. I allowed this cool and then added small amounts of raisins, dried cranberries, pine kernels, pistachio nuts and mixed seeds. I mixed this with the remaining couscous, and stirred in some oil and vinegar dressing.

Slow roasted lamb

Lamb1-horz

I bought half a shoulder of lamb (the half with the blade bone). This will feed two (probably three):

  • 1 half shoulder of lamb
  • about 10 cloves of garlic (pealed)
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • Boiling water
  • 1 tsp vegi stock powder
  • 2 tsp red currant jelly
  • 3 tsp flour
  • black pepper to taste

Cut ‘slots’ in the meat and insert garlic cloves (distributed throughout the joint). Rub the joint all over with the harissa paste. Place in a small roasting tin. Add about 100ml of boiling water and roast at 180C (Gas Mark 5). After 20 minutes turn the heat done really low (say 110C (Gas Mark 1/40), basically to as low as most ovens will go. Roast for about 2,5 hours (longer won’t so any harm). Top up with boiling water at intervals if the roasting tin is dry.

Turn the oven back up to 180C (Gas Mark 5) for the final 20 minutes. Then remove the meat onto a plate and cover to keep warm.

To make the gravy, make the stock by adding 250ml of hot water (I used some of the water used to boil the sweet potatoes (see below)) to the stock powder, add the red currant jelly, and stir until dissolved. Mix the flour with the fat remaining in the roasting tin. Gently heat on the hob (as in making a roux) and gradually combine the stock mixture and bring to the boil (constantly stirring to avoid lumps).

Carve the meat and serve with vegetables of choice (I served it with mashed sweet potatoes and shredded cabbage) and gravy.

Spicy tuna lunch box

Spicy_tuna_bento_Small

This will provide two of the portions shown in the illustration:

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste (or use chilli sauce instead)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 standard can of tuna chunks (drained)
  • 1/2 a standard can of red kidney beans (you can freeze the rest, or store in the fridge for use in the next few days)
  • 1 smallish green pepper (roughly chopped)
  • 2 spring onions finely sliced
  • black pepper to taste

Mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, harissa and lemon juice. Give it a good beating with a tablespoon (it should thicken and look like mayonnaise). [You could up the proportion of yogurt and reduce the amount of mayonnaise, but unless the mixture is consumed the same day it will become watery as the yogurt separates from the mayonnaise.]

Add the tuna chunks and mash in with a fork.

Add the beans (drained), the green pepper and the spring onions.

Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

The  illustration shows a 750ml square ‘Lock & Lock‘ plastic container. Other items are small tomatoes and carrots sticks (with an oil and vinegar dressing), and sliced beetroot with vinegar and spring onions.