Meat free Mondays
Often used as a rice substitute in risottos, pearl barley is a healthier alternative to your everyday carb. This glorious grain is a de-husked, polished barley kernel making it faster to cook and easier on the stomach. Removing the shell takes away a lot of the fibre but makes the whole cooking, eating, digesting experience much more palatable.
This is a salad for people that don’t like salad. I love a grain salad, you can tart them up any which way. This one is a combination of Mediterranean flavours; fried courgette ribbons, fresh parsley, mint, grilled halloumi and lashings of lemon juice and olive oil.
Ideally, this would be bejewelled with juicy, shredded lamb or the playing best supporting role in a sumptuous summer BBQ. But, it’s February - I’m still fighting the effects of the Christmas binge and it’s Meat Free Monday.
- 175g Pearl Barley
- 750ml Chicken stock
- 2 courgettes
- 2 Banana shallots
- 150g Garden peas
- 250g Halloumi
- 1 Garlic clove
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
Rinse the pearl barley well under a cold tap and pop a pan with the chick stock. Bring to a furious boil for 10 minutes, then reduce to a simmer for a further 50.
Keep an eye on the pearl barley – it should take roughly an hour until it’s cooked but left with a bit of a bite. Make sure the water doesn’t boil away, if you need to top up with water from the kettle.
While the barley is cooking move on to the courgettes. Peel into large ribbons, moving around the courgette as you peel, you don’t want to use the entirety of the vegetable as the very middle is a bit too wet.
Place a griddle pan on a high heat with plenty of oil and salt, when the oil has had a chance to warm start placing your ribbons in the pan beside each other and grill until slightly charred in places.
When your first batch of courgette is done, toss on to a sheet of kitchen roll to soak up the excess oil. Repeat for the rest of your courgette pile – it’s a bit time consuming and does lead to the fire alarm going off if you don’t take the batteries out.
Now move on to your dressing. Smash together the mint and garlic in a pestle and mortar until you can really start to smell the aromas and you’re getting a course paste. Scrap this out and add it to a jug with the juice of a lemon and a half, a small grating of zest and loads of olive oil.
When the pearl barley is ready, remove from the heat and allow to cool before throwing it into a large serving bowl with the peas, rocket and finely chopped shallots. Combine well with half the courgette ribbons so you have one big mess of goodness.
Drench the salad in your dressing and careful place on tope your remaining ribbons, grilled halloumi and a few extra mint leaves.