Avocado Barley Bowl

The most recent addition to the ever expanding shelf of cookbooks in the flat is Anna Jones' A Modern Way To Cook. My boyfriend ordered it for £10 on Amazon, and it is amazing. It's the first cookbook I actually just sat down and read... it has great meal diagrams for constructing salads, awesome baked potatoes, one-dish dinners, and more. Plus, her recipes are easy to follow and include really lovely pictures. avo

The problem with cookbooks and their really lovely pictures, is my meals almost never turn out as beautifully!  Last night I thought I'd try my hand at her Avocado Barley Bowl - it's a perfect recipe for my boyfriend and I, as he's not a vegetarian, and we're always on the hunt for meals with bases that we can each add our own protein to. These were perfect for the addition of leftover xmas turkey for him, and Quorn chicken for me.

I made a few amendments to Jones' instructions: where she calls for pumpkin or sunflower seeds, I used both! Her instructions for cooking the pearl barley were vague, so I used a hybrid of hers and the tesco packet's. And, finally, I simply used a cast-iron griddle pan to toast both the nuts/seeds, and the avocado.

What I found most exciting about this recipe was it was actually fun to cook. There were a lot of different elements, but none of them so taxing that I got overwhelmed (which I easy am).

Now I know mine isn't nearly as pretty, but it was very tasty and even though it said serves four, we got two diner portions and I got three lunch portions of it as well. I think the addition of more protein helped stretch them out as well.

Recipe from Anna Jones' A Modern Way To Cook

200g pearl barley the zest and juice of 11⁄2 unwaxed lemons 50g almonds 50g sunflower or pumpkin seeds 2 ripe avocados a large bunch of fresh basil 200ml plain yoghurt or coconut yoghurt 150g sprouted seeds or pulses 100g feta cheese 200g spinach or greens

Fill and boil a kettle and get all your ingredients together. Heat a griddle pan on a high heat.

First, get the pearl barley cooking. Rinse it well under cold water, then put it into a pan with twice the amount of water, a good pinch of salt, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, then put the squeezed lemon half into the pan. Cook for about 25 minutes.

Heat a frying pan on a medium heat. Roughly chop the almonds and toast them in the pan with the seeds until just turning golden brown.

Cut the avocados in half, discard the stones, then put them cut-side down on the griddle pan and cook until they have nice griddle marks.

Make a quick yoghurt sauce: shred the basil leaves and mix with the yoghurt, zest and juice of the remaining lemon and a good pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Once the barley is cooked, drain any remaining water, then tumble it into a large dish, crumble over the feta cheese and the toasted almonds and seeds. Shred the spinach or greens, add to the dish and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, remembering that the feta is quite salty.

Serve the barley topped with half a warm avocado ready to spoon out, big helpings of yoghurt sauce and more basil, if needed.