After Christmas and New Year, everything is drained; our immune systems, our cupboards, our wallets. We need rejuvenation, and after the decadence of our eating and drinking over the holiday period, we need a bit of simple, hearty sustenance too. I certainly did this year.
Fighting off a sore throat and battling with an empty post-festive kitchen, I craved something easy to make but with enough garlic and ginger and spice to slightly ease the scratchiness in my oesophagus. I wanted warmth in a bowl. I wanted this.
While mint might sound like an odd ingredient to throw into this mix, both lemon and dried mint are ingredients in Harissa, so they simply act to enhance those flavours in this dish. The onion, ginger and garlic bring a warm along with the Harissa and the vegetables give you some much-needed nutritional love. It’s not too intense, but it’s full of goodness and taste.
Barley is a pretty great kitchen staple, and one that’s incredibly cheap. I use it for stews and soups as well as for warm salads like this, and it’s easy on your tummy after perhaps a few too many mulled wines.
1 cup barley
5 cups water
1 tablespoon olive/vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, grated
1/2 a white onion, diced
2 carrots, diced small
1 red pepper, diced small
1 tablespoon Harissa paste
1 teaspoon dried mint
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 large handfuls spinach
In a sauce pan, bring the barley and water to a boil and then simmer for about 50 minutes, or until the barley is tender
About 35 minutes into the barley cooking time, heat the oil in a large frying pan and then add in the garlic and ginger
Cook for a minute then add in the onion
When the onion is translucent, add in the carrots and red pepper and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat
When the carrots are tender, add in the Harissa paste and dried mint and stir to combine
Drain the barley and add to the pan
Add in the lemon juice and stir to combine
Throw in the spinach and season; stir well, and when the spinach starts to wilt, remove from the heat
Serve immediately with another squeeze of lemon on top if you like
This stays delicious even after a day or two in the fridge, and the leftovers can be eaten cold or warmed up, depending on your preference. Kale would make a good addition to this dish, as would any leftover roasted vegetables like parsnips or red onion. Enjoy it however you like it!