Guaranteed, I will always enjoy barley. The recipe for “Mushrooms with Salsify and Barley,” from chef Yotam Ottolenghi at The Guardian, seduced me with its inclusion of barley and mushrooms and an herbed mayonnaise. It was fine to eat at room temperature and provided my sought-after silkiness. But what of this salsify? Do you know it? It’s a European root vegetable, sweet and wintery. As the recipe suggests, I substituted celeraic, with fine results.

In converting the recipe from the metric system, know that 150 grams of barley equals 5.25 oz. I added my heated lemon peels and garlic to my cooked barley, along with 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Indulge in an assortment of mixed mushrooms -- I used chanterelles and shiitakes, which were silky and beautiful once cooked. The celery root (celeraic) was sweet (300 grams equals 10.5 oz.). I added another 1 tsp. kosher salt to the final mixture, where the tarragon’s perfume was pronounced.

For my herb mayonnaise, I did add parsley, tarragon, and thyme to a good commercial variety (Hellman’s!). When mixed into the barley salad, the herb mayo had a nice glistened effect. Do try this recipe for all the right reasons: the mushrooms and the barley.

I halved the recipe for “Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes,” from the November 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times, in order to make 4 servings. This mash was thick and easy to eat. I recognized the sweetness of the apple; I used a Mutsu apple, which is related to the Golden Delicious. The mash also featured my garlic-nugget surprises. Instead of taking the time to roast the garlic (even though it is indeed time well spent), I used my newest favorite method: I caramelized 10 garlic cloves in a pan with 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter for less than 2 minutes. This gave me browned and sweetened cloves that I scattered throughout my mash. Brilliant!

My sweet potato mash was creamy enough, without adding any cooking water. Since I hadn’t roasted my garlic with the rosemary, I chopped the rosemary and tossed it into the mash instead. I also added 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. A potato mash like this one is always a treat.

Lemon (1) = .23¢
Celery Root (10.5 oz.) = $1.27
Chanterelle Mushrooms (7.5 oz.) = $8.59
Shiitake Mushrooms (9.9 oz.) = $4.80
Sweet Potatoes (2) = 42.96
Mutsu Apple (1) = .85¢

RECIPES: mushrooms and barley belong together, and Ottolenghi dresses them ably; mashed sweet potatoes are sweetened by apple and kissed by garlic
dedicate an hour or so to the prep and cooking of the barley dish; if you take the same caramelized-garlic shortcut that I did, your mashed potatoes can be eaten after less than 30 minutes of prep
TASTES: silky barley and mushrooms pair with sweet celery root, coated unashamedly in mayonnaise and tarragon; sweet potatoes + apple + garlic = comfort

Next time, I will cook the “Spinach and Red Chard Quiche,” from AllRecipes, along with “Bacon Fried Rice,” from Burt Wolf’s Menu Cookbook. See how this meal gets thrown together, when you return to my site on Thursday, March 24.