salad days

Getting this post in at the 11th hour of Ingredient Week 3, just before the clock turns past the halfway mark of boards studying for me (gulp). I’m happy to tell you that it was a very good week of food. It started with a quick weekend at home and a double batch of Grandma Kay’s cinnamon rolls for Easter brunch. No secret ingredients here. Except a whole lot of butter. I’ll share the recipe sometime soon when I have time to tell the recipe’s story in a way that does justice to these rolls.


The cinnamon rolls were just one small component of a fantastically bountiful Easter dinner with my extended fam, and dinner was just one element of a decadent weekend of all the good things we eat and drink when the folks we love and don’t get to see all that often are all together. But by the time  I landed back to reality in Chicago  I was excited to have a vegetable for the ingredient of the week as an way to get back on a less-indulgent meal plan.


I set out create something with those poblanos that I could look forward to for filling and flavorful lunches in the midst of long study days. Toward this goal I turned to a classic Joanna staple: roasted sweet potatoes. I went with the thinly sliced, wanna-be sweet potato chip method of roasting to add some crunch.


There are enough flavors going on in this salad to keep you interested in it in leftovers-for-lunch form for days in a row (this coming from a veritable leftovers snob).  The grain and beans make it filling and wholesome and the bright tastes of the peppers, cilantro, and feta keep things far,far away from tupperwares-full-of-drudgery doom.


I am sure that veggies could shine on their own here, sans barley and chickpeas, as a colorful twist on your conventional potato salad as we roll into barbeque season.  It will surely be featuring in my lunchtime rotation this spring.


2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced (thickest setting on my mandolin/about as thin as I could have gotten them with a sharp knife)

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper

2 poblano peppers, chopped

1 c cooked barley or other grain (brown rice, quinoa, etc)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 oz feta, crumbled

1 large handful parsley, coarsely chopped (more to taste)


2 T honey

1 medium shallot, minced

2 t dijon mustard

2-3 T olive oil

3 T white wine vinegar

salt and pepper, to taste

First, roast the potatoes. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the sliced potatoes out on top in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 T olive oil, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, flipping the slices once or twice. They’re done when tender and starting to crisp and brown on the edges. Your cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the slices so check them often at the end of the cooking time to avoid scorched taters.

While the sweet potatoes cook, whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Combine the peppers, grain, beans, and potatoes when they’re done cooking. Drizzle over the dressing and mix to coat. Adjust the seasonings then stir the feta and parsley in gently. Serve warm or at room temperature


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