Autumn is officially here! And so is pumpkin season. So I might go a bit crazy on the orange side of life, but hey, it only comes once a year. Also, the nights are considerably more chilly already, so comfort food is what I am longing for. I try to eat at about 7 pm now since I don’t want my belly to go all crazy at night but give it some time to process and then get a good nights sleep.
I just recently moved to the UK (again) and it seems that barley and millet are more common to eat here. At least I have had it at british friend’s houses. So I thought I’d give it a shot myself and opted for barley, just because it starts with a “b” and that comes first in the alphabet haha This is a quick and easy recipe for a barley stir fry, if you want to call it that. I love things that you can eat out of a bowl, especially if you want to eat and watch TV or keep on working at your computer. Yes, not healthy or not recommended, but I do it sometimes anyway. The great thing about this recipe is, that you could play with the spices and therefore change the flavor and direction of the dish easily (I am also thinking Indian or even exotic with coconut).
Here is what you need for 2 portions (or one generous one with some left over for lunch the next day):
1 1/2 cups of barley
1/2 white or yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 block of smoked tofu, cubed
150 g of fresh spinach (alternatively use about 3 or 4 cubes of frozen spinach, defrost them before)
3 tsp Ras el Hanout (Morrocan spice mix)
salt to taste
oil for frying (I used sunflower)
In a pot, bring some water (about 1 litre) to a boil and add the barley. Cook for about 15 to 20 min until soft, but not mushy. Meanwhile, in a pan, heat up about 1-2 tbsp of oil on medium heat. You don’t want your onions to burn, so don’t heat the oil up too much. Add the onions to the oil and sauté until translucent. Then add the Ras el Hanout and enjoy the awesome smell that is filling your kitchen.
Now it is time for the pumpkin to join the party. Stir it in well so it gets covered nicely in the spices. Also add the smoked tofu and a pinch of salt. Let the cubes get some colour, also the squash and turn them so they get browned on all sides. This will take a few minutes. Once nice and brown, deglaze with about 1/2 cup of water (add more if needed). The cubes should now simmer in a bit of water to allow then to soft a bit more. Check with a fork to see when they are done. If you are using the frozen spinach, you want to add it now so it can warm up properly for a few minutes.
When they squash is ready, add the fresh spinach into the pan. We don’t want to cook it to death, so a swirl in the pan for a minute or two should do. Once the barley is cooked, drain it and add it into the pan. Turn off the heat and mix everything well through. Add salt to taste and enjoy (in a bowl).