We’ve been tucking into this herby dish a lot recently – come rain or shine. I’m slightly obsessed with the piquant Chimichurri style sauce and sweet potatoes – this dreamy combination is much greater than the sum of the parts. Grain wise, the nutty chewiness of the pearl barley complements the flavours well. For a spicy kick, include the cumin seeds, chilli and coriander with your herb mix. Serve hot or cold: its a good make-ahead dish for barbeques and summer entertaining – any leftovers can just be thrown in a Tupperware box to enjoy at work.
My Chimichurri tends to have a definite salsa verde influence. It has the backbone of parsley and oregano but I also throw in whatever herbs I happen to have in the fridge. This usually includes mint – I love its freshness – and I never need an excuse to use tarragon. I like this dressing to be quite punchy as it cuts through the richness of the sweet potatoes and perks up relatively bland grains.
200g pearl barley
800g – 1 kg sweet potatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds (optional but recommended)
2 medium red onions
About 20 olives
50g flat leave parsley
25g mint leaves
10g tarragon (about half a bag)
A few fresh oregano leaves (about a third of a bag)
25g coriander (optional)
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 fresh red chilli (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider/red/white wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Preheat oven 200/220 degrees fan/conventional
- Cube the sweet potatoes and roast, with the cumin seeds if using, for about 45 minutes until soft and beginning to crisp around the edges.
- Boil the pearl barley – I often find it takes less time that suggested by the packet instructions, so test after 30 minutes. The grains should be tender but a little bit chewy.
- Make the Chimichurri by whizzing all the ingredients up together. Add a little more olive oil for a runnier consistency or for less acidity.
- Once the pearl barley is cooked to your liking, drain off any excess water, give the grains a good shake in the sieve and return to the saucepan. Stir in the Chimichurri and potatoes once they are cooked.
- To finish, throw in the olives and finely dice the red onion – or use a mandolin – and scatter over the pearl barley mix. Enjoy hot or cold.