Keep it simple. Use what you have. Make it work.
I’ve been staring at these three ideas for the past few hours. In between breastfeeding my baby, laundry, trying to make food for myself, emails, brushing my teeth and changing a couple diapers, I’ve been back and forth to my computer unsuccessfully getting any further with this post.
Then I read it again and realized that the advice that I was trying to give all of you out there was precisely what I needed to hear myself.
My days are so different than they used to be. Instead of being able to play in the kitchen from dawn until way past dusk, I’m playing with my sweet baby. Instead of making food for all of you to recreate I’m making food for us. Unremarkable, perhaps, but there is a turning inwards, a quiet and simplicity that I’m cultivating, or at least trying to. It isn’t glamorous and most of it isn’t worth blogging, but it’s real life. And I am very grateful for it.
Needless to say, meals have been simple and Abundance Bowls have been abundant. I’ve been cooking grains and beans in bulk to use for later, then tossing whatever fresh veggies I have on hand into the mix. If I can bend time and squeak out five or ten minutes worth of creativity, a sauce happens, or maybe a quick pickled condiment. All of a sudden, a pretty boss bowl of tasty, healthy food sits before me and I feel like the luckiest person in the world, living in true abundance. That is what the Abundance Bowl is all about. Keeping it simple. Using what you have. Making it work. And I guess feeling that kind of overwhelming gratitude doesn’t hurt either.
Here we are in the first breaths of true summer. My little family and I are back in Canada for the next little while and it feels amazing to be home. The sun is bright and the river is crisp, gardens everywhere are bursting with fresh food. The Early Summer Abundance bowl celebrates all of it, along with the feeling of luckiness that always pervades my thinking this time of year, as we begin to reap the benefits of the season.
I chose freekeh in this edition, a roasted, immature wheat that tastes deep and rich and is the perfect counterpoint to sweet, young beetroots, earthy radishes and vibrant sprouts. The grain is harvested while still young and soft, then roasted or sun-dried. The health bonus of harvesting immature wheat is that it retains more of its nutrients and proteins than its fully-grown counterparts. It even claims to have fewer carbohydrates than regular wheat because it’s young. It surprisingly has more dietary fiber content than brown rice, plus more calcium, iron, and potassium content.
You can find freekeh at Middle Eastern grocery stores and increasingly at natural and gourmet food shops. Sometimes it is referred to and sold as “Green Wheat”. If you have never tried freekeh before, get ready to freak out. It’s seriously amazing stuff! It cooks up like any other grain, keeps very well in the fridge and can be enjoyed hot or cold. I love it in salads, especially with lots of garlic, olive oil and lemon to balance the smoky flavour.
As I was after a sort of Middle Eastern flavour profile, I chose to make a harissa-spiked chutney with spring onion and dates, which is altogether scrumptious. Leftovers of this are excellent smeared on toast with poached eggs for breakfast, accompanying roast veggies or in an avocado sandwich. The colour isn’t very sexy, but the flavour is oh-my-goodness delicious. And to really take this Abundance Bowl to the next level, I may have put a little seared halloumi cheese in there. Maybe. Oh I totally did.
Early Summer Abundance Bowl
1 cup / 175g freekeh
1 tsp. sea salt
½ block Halloumi cheese (about 125g / 4.5oz)
2 medium yellow beets (red beets will work too)
1 small bunch radishes
a few handfuls of fresh sprouts (I used sprouted black lentil)
juice of ½ lemon
handful fresh mint leaves
cold-pressed olive oil for garnish
1 batch Spring Onion Harissa Chutney (recipe below)
1. Place the freekeh into a saucepan and cover with water. Swirl water and rub the grains together vigorously to wash them. Drain and repeat until the water is clear. Add 2 cups water and a couple pinches sea salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the water is completely absorbed (about 15 minutes for cracked grain and 45 minutes for whole grain). Remove from heat and drizzle with a little olive oil, stir to combine. Set aside.
2. While the freekeh is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Peel the beets and slice very thinly with a mandoline or your excellent knife skills. Place in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice, and a few pinches of salt. Roughly chop mint and fold to combine. Slice radishes.
3. Slice the halloumi and place on a grill pan or dry skillet over high heat. Cook until golden on the underside, then flip.
4. To assemble, place about ¼ of the cooked freekeh in each of the bowls. Add a few slices of grilled halloumi, a handful of sliced beets, a couple radishes, a large handful of sprouts, and a generous dollop of the Spring Onion Harissa Chutney. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Spring Onion Harissa Chutney
Makes about 2 cups
2 large bunches / 400g / scant 1 lb. spring onion (equals roughly 6 cups chopped)
knob of coconut oil or ghee
pinch of sea salt
½-1 Tbsp. harissa paste (depending on how hot you like it)
1-2 large dates, preferably Medjool, pitted
3 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1. Wash and roughly chop spring onions, including the green tops. Melt a knob of coconut oil or ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add spring onions and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat and cook until the onions are softened and sweet, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. In a food processor, roughly chop pitted dates. Add the spring onions, harissa, olive oil and lemon juice. Blend on high until the mixture is creamy, but still a little chunky. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed glass container in the fridge for up to five days.
As for those of you asking about the Potluck Picnic in Toronto, I have made the difficult decision to skip it this year. There are so many things going on in my life (all positive!) but in the name of keeping things simple and quiet, I am honoring the commitment I made to myself to focus my energy on my family at this time. I so much appreciate your enthusiasm, and also your understanding. And of course I look forward to resuming the event next summer!
Show me your Abundance Bowls on Instagram: #earlysummerabundancebowl