January 17, 2017

After a month of eating rich, winter meat-heavy food, we’re feeling slightly (OK very!) weighed down and craving more veg based meals. Although our holiday was so special catching up with friends and family, boy is it tops to be home and back into a routine amongst the beautiful summer produce and sunshine.

Not keen on doing dry January, we’ve decided to have a (mostly) meat-free month focussing on cramming in as many veges as possible instead.

This recipe  is inspired by a meal I had at 26 Grains in Neal’s Yard, in London. It’s  a bit of a mishmash between a curry and a salad using plump ripe tomatoes and loads of herbs. Make sure you cook the tomatoes slowly so they break down and become utterly soft and sweet.

The key to this dish is the toppings – find the plumpest avocados, salty-sharp halloumi and roasted almonds. It looks long but it’s simple and you’ll get a few meals out of it. We had it tow nights in a row and hubby took for lunch 3 times! x

1 cup pearl barley
2.5 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
2 brown onions, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli flakes
8 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
400ml can coconut milk
Sea salt and pepper
1 cup herbs – I used basil and coriander
1/2 lemon, juice only

To serve:
200g halloumi, sliced
2 avocados, sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Extra herbs

Bring pearl barley and stock to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft (8-10 minutes). Next add cumin and chilli flakes and cook a further minute. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes until they break down. Next add the coconut milk and pearl barley and mix through. Add a squeeze of lemon and herbs then turn off the heat while you cook the halloumi.

For the halloumi, add a splash of olive oil to a medium-hot pan, fry on both sides until golden and soft.
Transfer tomato coconut rice to bowls and top each with halloumi, avocado, almonds and herbs. Enjoy x

Gretchen Lowe, Food Stylist Auckland

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