Dave and I arrived back in Toronto late Monday night after an epic travel weekend in which we lunched with my oldest friend, attended a wedding, caught up with extended family, visited an island, trespassed through a farm, and joined a camp for dinner. It’s no surprise that, come Tuesday, I had little interest in hitting up the grocery store. Our fridge, however, had nothing to offer me but soy milk and carrots, so it was going to be a pantry lunch. Cue this sweet potato & barley salad from Amy Pennington’s The Urban Pantry. It’s slow, simple food that suits all seasons and keeps in the fridge all week. Getting restless with it before then? Turn the leftovers into a soup.
While the simplicity of this recipe is part of the draw, it’s also easy to jazz up. Before adding the sweet potatoes, try tossing them in a little bit of olive oil and dried cumin or curry powder. Alternatively (or as well), consider topping individual servings with crumbled goat cheese, chopped toasted nuts, or toasted pumpkin seeds. If you find yourself without fresh herbs, just swap in dried herbs or some slivered greens if you have any in the fridge. This dish is about working with what you have.
Barley & Sweet Potato Salad
from Urban Pantry
1 cup uncooked barley
3 cups water
1.5 tsp olive oil
1 sweet potato, peeled & diced into small cubes
salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, basil, etc)
3 tbsp olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
1. Pour barley into a dry saucepan, and, stirring frequently, cook over medium-high heat until it becomes fragrant (3-5 minutes). Add water and bring barley to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the saucepan, and cook until tender and chewy (45-60 minutes). Drain any remaining liquid and transfer to a large bowl or serving dish to cool.
2. While barley is cooking, place a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1.5 tbsp olive oil. When hot, add the sweet potato cubes and arrange them into a single layer (or as close to that as your frying pan will allow). Sprinkle with salt & pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned.
3. Add the cooked sweet potato, fresh herbs, remaining olive oil, & lemon juice to the bowl of barley. Season with additional salt & pepper if desired. Serve at room temperature.