Vegetarian food can be so un-interesting, can’t it? Pick up a general cookbook and the vegetarian section will probably be full of meat meals with the meat substituted, veggie chilli, veggie curry, something with Tofu… You know the story.
One of my favourite ways to create a meal is to start with a vegetable. The variety of vegetables available is seemingly endless, and the number of flavours and dimensions that can be brought out of each one is often surprising. Many of these subtleties simply can’t be found in meat dishes.
So if you’re feeling bored with food, or tired of eating the same things in the name of keeping costs down or making food healthy, find a vegetable, and have a good long think about its flavour and what you could do with it.
Take fresh beetroot and pearl barley. They’re both flavours that I love. I normally experience pearly barley soaked in a nice meaty stock. However, one of the most beautiful things about root vegetables, and a reason they work so well in many meat dishes, is their sweetness.
I decided to capitalise on this. I diced three fresh beetroot and two parsnips, and placed them in my slow cooker with 1 sliced leek, for contrast. I poured in roughly half of a 500g bag of pearl barley.
Now for the seasoning! I added two tablespoons of honey, and about a desertspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon. If you don’t eat honey, I am sure other sweeteners would work well. I covered it with two kettles full of hot water, and left to cook on low for ten hours.
The result was a beautifully clear, fragrant dish unlike any soup I had tasted before. The honey wasn’t sickly at all, it simply brought out the depth of flavour of the vegetables. Go on, be brave, let your vegetables have a bit of personality!
- Three fresh beetroot
- 2 parsnips
- 1 leek
- 250g pearl barley
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 dsp nutmeg
- 1 dsp cinnamon
- Dice the beetroot and slice the leek.
- Place all ingredients in the slow cooker with 2 kettles full of boiling water.
- Mix well and cook on low for 10 hours.