April 20, 2012

Earth Bowl

In honour of Earth Day, which is coming up this Sunday, I thought it would appropriate to call this dish "Earth bowl". Although not all the ingredients in this dish are locally grown (most are grown in Australia) I thought this tasty mix of flavours would make a perfect meal to raise awareness on sustainable living and climate change.

Before I came to Australia, I finished a university degree that focused on the Arctic regions and Northern resources. We had an amazing international group of students from all over the world, including the Canadian Arctic, Alaska, Northern Russia, Finland, etc. and it was truly fascinating, not to mention eye-opening, to learn how people across the Arctic regions are coping with the rapid climate change and adapting to it. Although an arguably useless degree here in Australia, I am still very passionate about this topic and find issues about climate change and sustainable living compelling.

True to my values, I do try to make 'green' choices in my everyday life - I buy locally grown food at farmers' markets, walk or use public transportation whenever possible, try to consume less, reuse and recycle more, and so on. In all honesty, I think I could do even more to help the environment, and it is certainly a goal I am constantly striving towards.

Back to these Earth bowls, however. I really love the combination of the flavours - the earthy wholegrain freekeh (grown in Australia!), chickpeas, kale and a garlicky hazelnut dressing. Served with some grilled tofu, this is truly a bowl of goodness!

Earth Bowl
(serves 2-4)

200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight 
100g wholegrain freekeh
big bunch of kale
3 green onions
1 pomegranate
 70g hazelnuts
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
250g grilled firm tofu, to serve

1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put the chickpeas in a large pot with plenty of water. Bring the water to boil and leave to simmer for 45 minutes or until the chickpeas are tender.

2. In the mean while, put freekeh, along with 750ml water in a medium sized pot. Bring the water to boil and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes or until the grains are tender. 

3. Roughly chop the kale and finely chop green onions. Put them in a large mixing bowl. Drain the cooked chickpeas and freekeh, add them straight on top of the kale. This will wilt and soften the kale so you won't have to blanch it separately. Add pomegranate arils and toss well to combine.

4. Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan. Roughly chop the nuts, then mix half of the nuts with olive oil, minced garlic clove, mustard and apple cider vinegar. Season the dressing with a pinch of salt and pepper and pour into the salad. 

5. Toss the salad to mix, then serve sprinkled with the rest of the hazelnuts and some grilled firm tofu.