Navratri and going vegetarian

BBC2's Newsnight ran an article last night, about the staggering food wastage and, the imminent world food shortage we will be faced with in the not so distant future. I found it rather terrifying that restaurants, food shops and households throw out so much good food, that could feed hundreds. Why don't more just give away the surplus food at the end of each day, rather than turn it out onto the street in bin bags?

I am not one to waste food, I'll always find something to do with that odd aubergine in the fridge. When I do a weekly food shop, I tend to semi plan each day's meals or 'teas' as my lovely Northern friend prefers to call it. I'm no Saint and the odd thing does get chucked, but as a general rule I do abide by the waste not want not mantra.

We are confirmed foodies and meat does feature heavily in our diet, though I do try to serve fish at least once a week. However, for this week and for the next 8 days the husband has agreed to follow the Navratri custom of no meat or alcohol. We're not Hindus but he works with two lovely Hindu ladies who jokingly coaxed him into supporting their tradition.

Navratri is celebrated five times a year with this current Autumnal Sharada Navratri being the most important in the calender. Navratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of the deity Shakti determined by the lunar calender. Navratri in Sanskrit means nine days/nights so depending on which region you come from it is celebrated in differing ways though fasting is de rigueur everywhere. Non vegetarian food is the most important no no.

I don't mind in the slightest, I'm just going to get my old Cranks and Ottolenghi books out to create some vegetarian feasts. Friday is normally my food shopping day so we're down to bare minimum in the fridge, so this morning I looked up Pearl Barley salad on the old interweb to discover this lovely looking Barley and Roasted Squash salad on the bbcgoodfood website. Healthy, nutritious, filling and most importantly absolutely delicious! Enjoy: 

  • 1 butternut squash , peeled and cut into long pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g pearl barley
  • 300g Tender stem broccoli , cut into medium-size pieces
  • 100g SunBlush tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small red onion , diced
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp small capers , rinsed
  • 15 black olives , pitted
  • 20g pack basil , chopped

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the squash on a baking tray and toss with olive oil. Roast for 20 mins. Meanwhile, boil the barley for about 25 mins in salted water until tender, but al dente. While this is happening, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Drain the barley, then tip it into a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well and let it cool.Boil the broccoli in salted water until just tender, then drain and rinse in cold water. Drain and pat dry. Add the broccoli and remaining ingredients to the barley and mix well. This will keep for 3 days in the fridge and is delicious warm or cold.