Sweet Potatoes & Barley

Tahini is a magical ingredient. It makes anything it touches creamy and delicious. Last night’s mixture (not really sure if it’s a casserole or salad…you be the judge and tell me what to call it) was simple and full of rich wintery goodness. I used this recipe, modifying along the way with what I had in the kitchen. I’ll give you a list of what I used, but I encourage you to try it with whatever you’ve got lying around.



  • one medium shallot, sliced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • water as needed
  • salt to taste

The rest:

  • two sweet potatoes diced in bite-sized pieces
  • pinch of oregano
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried barley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup something green to sprinkle in (I used carrot tops…more about that later. I would have used shredded kale if I had it. You could also use parsley, spinach or anything else you like)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the barley according to package directions. *Warning: barley takes an hour on the stove top if it hasn’t been soaked. Not a big deal if you plan ahead. Meanwhile roast the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Roast the sliced shallots with olive oil in another pan at the same time. For me, the potatoes were done in 40 minutes and the shallots in 20. Allow shallots to cool for a few minutes. Shake the potatoes a few times while roasting and chop the green stuff.

For the sauce: combine lemon juice, tahini, and the shallot (with any leftover oil) in a food processor to blend. Add a tablespoon of water at a time to form a dressing. Add salt to taste.

Combine barley, sweet potatoes, green stuff and sauce. Stir around and serve immediately.

Chopped carrot tops add a little green to the dish

Inspired by something I made last summer

Food for thought: One of my favorite authors, Cathy Erway, wrote a chapter in her book about how our society views certain plants as food (spinach, arugula) while others are considered weeds or waste (dandelion greens, carrot and beet tops). Something to consider before tossing the broccoli stems or celery leaves in the trash.

Do you eat all the parts of the plant? Do you peel everything?

I used to peel, chop and discard a lot. Then I learned that the peel actually holds a lot of the plant’s nutrients, plus it makes cooking that much faster and easier if you skip a step. I try to buy organic so I don’t have to worry about pesticides or other pollutants. I’ve also started saving the “extra” parts of vegetables to toss into boiling water for a cheap and easy veggie broth.

P.S. I think the carrot tops tasted like an earthy, milder version of parsley. They added flavor without overpowering.



Filed under Dining in

3 responses to “Sweet Potatoes & Barley

  1. Pingback: Friday Favorites | veggievinyasa

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