i’m weary of insta love. in books and characters and people, for songs that you’re so infatuated with that they’re on repeat in your head again and again once all day long and then never again.
but those things that you let course through you, gradually, are the best. estelle’s “american boy” is a perennial karaoke classic, no matter how many times i (try to) rap kanye’s parts. and this vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce. on first pass, it sounds fine, delicious even, but maybe boring.
the first bite, perhaps one with too much barley and not enough coconut curry sauce, is bland.
but then you grab the right bite. the kind with a few grains of barley, a carrot coin, a kale leaf, a walnut nugget, a fat droplet of sauce. the vegetal sweetness and the chewy barley and the cozy curry all make sense now and together, don't they?
this vegetable barley bowl with coconut curry sauce was inspired by the bombay bowl from veggie grill. mine is a simplified version, with sauteed vegetables instead of herb-roasted ones (roasted vegetables take days that i don't have), and does without hemp seeds and cilantro and beans. still ridiculously hearty, and by no means less delicious.
- 2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into coins
- 1/2 head cauliflower cut into small florets
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 zucchini cut into coins (or half-moons if it's a big zucchini)
- 1 bunch kale leaves only, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/3 cup walnuts toasted and chopped
Place 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and the barley in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until tender and pleasantly chewy, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat some oil. Add the carrots and cauliflower; saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic; saute until fragrant. Add the squash and the kale, then saute until the carrots, cauliflower and squash is fork-tender, and the kale is cooked to your desired doneness.
In a medium bowl, combine the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, sesame oil and lemon juice.
Toss the barley, vegetables and coconut curry sauce until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Top with the walnuts and serve warm.
Cook the vegetables to your desired doneness, but if you need some sort of gauge, start with 7-8 minutes for the cauliflower and carrots, and 5 minutes for the squash and kale.
Feel free to mix in beans, meat, or any other protein that you'd like.
If you want to make this vegan, substitute the fish sauce with soy sauce.