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Minimal effort, maximum taste: the best packed lunch recipes

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Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

Mediterranean-inspired, vegan lunch.

A flavour-filled dish packed with healthy ingredients that won’t leave you hungry an hour after eating!


This tasty treat is something a bit different for The HHH in that *shock horror!* it doesn’t contain any meat! However, after trying this vegan recipe on a whim, we were won over by the bold Mediterranean flavours and the variety of complementary textures (a garnish of crunchy pine nuts is the pièce de résistance!).

The original recipe comes from Ella Woodward’s first cookbook, Deliciously Ella, but with one small addition of pearl barley. We found that it just wasn’t quite filling enough without a main carb in the dish, but not only does pearl barley suitably bulk out the meal to provide enough energy for the working day, it also sits perfectly alongside the other ingredients — not overshadowing anything, but actually bringing them all together even more… Try it and see for yourself!

Apart from the great taste (of course!), the best thing about this dish is that the whole thing can be made in the time that it takes the pearl barley to cook. You put that on to boil and then you can casually prep and cook the rest of the ingredients — when the barley’s done, it’s all over! So, although it says 10 mins prep time below, there isn’t really any extra prep time that counts.


Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 45 mins | Servings: 6

Ingredients
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Full Instructions

Cook pearl barley:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-assisted)
  2. Add 100g pearl barley to a saucepan and cover with cold water
  3. Turn the heat to max and bring to the boil
  4. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally (add more water if it gets low, the barley wants to be covered at all times)
  5. Try some after 45 min and if it’s soft, drain and set aside
    *note* the instructions on my pearl barley packet said cook for 1 hour 15 mins but mine didn’t need anything like that long, just keep an eye on it!

Prepare sun-dried tomatoes & aubergines:

  1. If using dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, cover 75g of them in boiling water now and leave to soak
  2. After about 10 minutes they should be soft enough, so just drain the water away and slice them in half
  3. Slice 2 aubergines into thick strips (see pictures for size)
  4. Place onto a baking tray and drizzle all over with oil (olive oil or avocado oil or anything you fancy!)
  5. Season well with salt & pepper before sprinkling with ½ tablespoon of dried mixed herbs
  6. Pop into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes

Cook spinach:

  1. While the aubergines are in the oven and the pearl barley is simmering away, add all of the spinach into a deep-sided frying pan or saucepan
  2. Drizzle with oil and season well with salt & pepper
  3. Leave to wilt slowly over a low heat, turning it over every now and then for full coverage!
  4. Once wilted, remove from heat and add the sliced sun-dried tomatoes, the juice of half a lime, and 2 tablespoons of tahini
  5. Mix it all together

Combine everything:

  1. Once the pearl barley and the aubergine are cooked, simply combine all the ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Taste some and add more s&p or lime juice if needed (more often than not, I’ll add the other half a lime for that sharp tang)
  3. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge until needed

Toast the pine nuts:

  1. Add the pine nuts (50–100g) to a frying fan over a high heat and toast them for a few minutes
    *tip* no need to add any oil as the nuts will release a little of their own, but just be watchful the whole time and stir or toss the pan often to stop them from catching
  2. When they go a little golden all over and start to smell really good, turn off the heat and transfer to an airtight tub

In the morning:

  1. Put a portion of the salad into a tub or lunch box and sprinkle generously with the toasted pine nuts
  2. And that’s it!

*hot option* just pop the salad in the microwave (it will only take 1 or 2 minutes to heat up, depending on the strength of the machine) and sprinkle the pine nuts over afterwards

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