Sunday, January 20, 2013

Veggies & barley baked in a clay pot

Time for another healthy winter meal!  This dish can be made in no time: it's prepared in a clay pot, which basically does all the work for you.  You just put the ingredients in the pot, put the pot in the oven and serve once baked -- with a glamorous smile, pretending you've been slaving in the kitchen whole day to prepare such a delicious/nutritious treat.

The inspiration for this came from two sides. First, student time memories of when my Bulgarian house mate, Martina, prepared meals in cute, hand-made clay pots she brought with her from Bulgaria. I was on the look out for something similar, and managed to buy a nice clay pot last week. Second, during my recent stay in Poland, I bought literally bags and bags of healthy food -- including various nutritious grains. (There is a serious possibility the woman at the store counter declared me absolutely nuts). They now fill a huge closet in my kitchen and I'm forced to find creative ways to eat all this healthy stuff.

The pot turned out to be extremely convenient, and is great for preparing lunches you can simply heat up in the microwave at work.  It keeps the moisture in, so that the food does not dry out and retains all the flavors.  Depending on the size of the pot, you can prepare portions for one or more people (you could also buy a few small pots and serve in individual pots).  Highly recommended for all you busy people out there!

Before & after:

  • 1 small egg plant
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes (I used bio)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 cup of dry barley groats
  • mixed dried herbs
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley etc.) (chopped)
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil (optional)
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Cut all the vegetables in small-ish cubes.  Mix with barley, dried herbs, olive oil (if you use it), and season with salt and pepper.  Make sure to use all the tomato juice from the can, as the barley will need the liquid -- you can even add some water if you want to (I did not).
  • Bake for 40 minutes, stirring once after 20 minutes (which I forgot to do, and nothing happened).  Serve sprinkled with fresh herbs.

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