We had a most lovely week, this one just past. And much needed. The week before was shitty. First the kids were sick, and just as they got better both S and I caught the cold. Trying to wrangle a rambunctious toddler and a teething baby when all you feel like doing is laying down in bed groaning and watching reruns of Game of Thrones is no ones idea of a good time. But we got through it (just barely), my mother-in-law came up for a weekend visit and brought lovely aniseed cake with her, and then S had a whole week off work.
With S at home for the week, we did all kinds of nice things. We hung out, went and ate banh mi for Monday lunch at Mrs Luu’s, spent a night camping out at Lamington National Park (great to be out of the city, but god damn those bush turkeys were aggressive), enjoyed the drama of a leadership spill, ate fish ‘n’ chips for dinner watching the rain pour down, shared a tub of Ben & Jerry’s phish food ice cream, finally watched Mad Max: Fury Road (so fuckin’ good), played in the park, bought a new dining room table, went to two different markets and bought all kinds of tasty fruit ‘n’ veg.
We also did lots of cooking, and enjoyed all of the eating. We got fresh snapper steaks at the market that S marinated in a lime-chilli-coriander concoction then grilled to perfection, which we ate with coconut rice and eggplant. Fuck yeh! We bought lovely cheeses and fresh crusty bread and sat on the living room floor on Friday afternoon eating them alongside a glass of red wine. I also cooked and photographed (and ate) a bunch of recipes that I’ll be featuring on these pages in the following weeks, including chocolate cake with cocoa-tahini frosting, chia seed pudding with strawberries, the best ever coffee cake, Vietnamese-style eggplant and rice. But today I bring you this here colourful Freekeh Vege Bowl with Miso-Tahini Sauce.
Grain bowls are all the rage at the moment, and rightly so. They are as easy or difficult as you want to make them, filling, delicious, and pretty damn healthy. They are endlessly adaptable to taste, season, dietary requirements, mood. Once you’ve got the basics sorted you can explore away, crafting bowls based around specific flavours or simply throwing something together based on what you have left in the fridge at the end of the week. Here are my grain bowl pro-tips:
- Start off with your grain: brown rice, freekeh, millet, quinoa, cous cous, etc.
- Add something green: kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, shaved zucchini, etc.
- Vegetables for colour/texture: beetroot, roasted sweet potato, grated carrot, etc.
- Choose a protein: salted fish, meat, egg, fried tempeh, tofu, beans, etc.
- Something pickled/spicy: kimchi, pickled veges, harissa, etc.
- A touch of crunch: nuts, fried shallots, toasted pepitas, etc.
- Dress it up: miso-tahini sauce, infused olive oil, yoghurt dressing, etc.
- Garnish: toasted sesame seeds, crumbled feta cheese, hummus, etc.
You’re basically curating a meal in one vessel, so along with flavour matches you also want to think about colour and texture. I like to serve up the bowl with the basic ingredients all ready to go (grains, greens,veges & protein) and then offer everything else (pickled, crunch, dressing & garnishes) on the side so that everyone can customise their bowl according to their own preferences.
This particular Freekeh Vege Bowl with Miso-Tahini Sauce was a mixture of careful curation and the utilisation of fridge leftovers. In the end it came together beautifully – the purple pop of the beetroot against the muted brown freekeh; the ripe avocado against the sharpness of pickled ginger; the soft egg against the crunchy asparagus; the tangy/creamy miso-tahini bringing it all together. I slowly prepared everything across the course of a Thursday morning, starting with the pickled ginger while I was preparing breakfast for the kids in the morning (thanks to My New Roots for the easy and tasty pickled ginger recipe!). It was the ideal mid-week long lunch. S and I ate our bowls out on the front verandah together, watching an unexpected afternoon storm.
Freekeh & Vege Bowl with Miso-Tahini Sauce
1 cup freekeh
2 -3 beetroot (depending on size)
24 asparagus stalks
1 avocado, ripe
Olive oil, to cook
Salt, to taste
2 tbsps miso
2 tbsps tahini
1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1 – 2 tbsps water, to thin
Garnishes to serve
Sesame seeds, toasted
Crispy fried shallots
Dried chilli flakes
Start by cooking your freekeh. Bring the cup of freekeh along with two and half cups of water to boil on the stove in a small pot. When it is boiling, cover with a lid, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the grains are cooked through but not yet soggy. Drain any remaining liquid.
Top and tail the beetroot and then, using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, shred into thin strips.
Brush the asparagus with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and grill for approx. 8 – 10 minutes, until and starting to blister, turning at least once halfway through. Cut into 4cm long pieces.
Halve the avocado, remove the pip, peel off the skin, and cut into thin slices.
In a small pot just cover the eggs with cold water. With the lid on bring the water to a rolling boil; once boiling remove the lid and continue to cook on high for a further three minutes. Immediately remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and leave in a bowl of cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel and cut in half lengthways.
Prepare the sauce by whisking together the miso, tahini, vinegar and sugar. Add one tablespoon of water and whisk through, adding the extra tablespoon if it is still too thick (I always use both spoons of water but it will depend on the thickness of your miso and tahini).
When you are ready to eat, divide the freekeh between four bowls. Top the bowls with equal amounts of the beetroot and asparagus, a quarter of a sliced avocado and an egg each. At this point you can either drizzle on the sauce and add the garnishes or serve as is with the sauce and toppings on the side. Whatever you do, be generous with the garnishes – they are what bring this whole dish together!