The bowl is mightier than the plate – it’s just a fact. Bowls can hold so much more. The potential spill factor is much lower. And most importantly, you can wrap your hands around a bowl and be one with your food. A very attractive option especially when it’s cold and/or rainy outside. Bowls, like mugs, just scream cozy. And for that reason, I thought a grain bowl was in order as we head into April and its many showers. So without further ado, allow me to present these Melting Sweet Potato Bowls with Mint Chimichurri.
No, these aren’t like those lame grain bowls you pay too much for in some disingenuous yuppie paradise. These bowls are meaty in spite of their meatless status. They’re buttery, sharp, and rich and they just happen to be fairly nutritionally sound. It was legitimately an accident. And these bowls can be easily made vegan. Again, it was an accident. You’re welcome.
The idea behind these Melting Sweet Potato Bowls was to create something that keeps you cozy while hinting at the BBQ season to come. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much chomping at the bit for summer to start. After a winter of pandemic-related isolation, I am ready to fire up the grill and enjoy a distance hang with my pals…As soon as my city allows that sort of thing. And to me, nothing screams BBQ season more than chimichurri.
For those unfamiliar, chimichurri is a herb-heavy condiment from Argentina. Now, the people of Argentina are ardent meat lovers. Their BBQ culture is legendary and chimichurri is their sauce of choice for any and all cuts of beef. So I would imagine most of them would be, um, less-than-enthusiastic about how I used it in this dish. As I mentioned before, my partner and I are not vegetarian but we do enjoy meatless dinner 4-5 times a week. So while I look forward to once again enjoying chimichurri with a marinated flank steak – I want to enjoy chimichurri more frequently than the once in a blue moon steak dinner.
I also see chimichurri as being a lovely companion to a great number of things. When you really strip down what chimichurri is you find it’s more or less an oil-happy vinaigrette. And think of all the places you can enjoy a vinaigrette. Now, out of respect for the condiment’s origins, I did select two vegetables that I think bring meat-like qualities to a vegetarian dish. The sweet potato provides something akin to the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth quality of the steak, while the soy seasoned shiitakes and cremini bring the umami. I don’t think you’re liable to mistake them for anything carnivorous, but I do find these veggies almost as satisfying as a steak. Almost.
Another reason I selected mushrooms and sweet potatoes for this bowl is because they are veggies I frequently toss on the grill. Foil packets of sweet potato medallion fresh from the BBQ are something I can never say no to. And mushrooms sauteed in a cast iron skillet over charcoal? Be still my heart. So if I wanted to conjure up memories of BBQs of summers past, these two veggies had to be included.
Now, let’s talk about the chimichurri itself. I opted to hand chop my chimichurri. Most recipes for chimichurri I’ve seen suggest the use of a food processor. But I chose to follow the excellent advice of Karina from cafedelites.com and use my chef’s knife instead. Her reasoning is sound, food processor chimichurri is more akin to “baby food”, while hand-chopped chimichurri has texture and pleasant flavor pops. I did diverge from Karina’s recipe by adding more red wine vinegar (I really like vinegar). I also swapped the parsley for mint and subbed fresh oregano for dried. Shallots were also added because I like their astringency and willingness to pickle.
Aside from the melting sweet potatoes, roasted mushrooms, and the mint chimichurri, these bowls contain a bed of farro and a crown of fresh arugula and herbs. I like to serve charred meats with bitter greens. So to further emphasize the faux-bbq-of-it-all arugula seemed necessary. I went with farro in lieu of rice because I appreciate the heft of the grain and I adore its nuttiness.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Melting Sweet Potato Bowls with Mint Chimichurri. A bowl you can curl up with while you dream of the cook-outs ahead.
Melting Sweet Potato Bowls with Mint Chimichurri
- ¼ cup fresh mint finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano finely chopped
- 3-4 red chilis finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 shallot finely diced
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
Melting Sweet Potato Bowls
- 2 sweet potatoes cut into 1 ½ inch thick medallions
- 2 tsp salt divided
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 227g (8oz) cremini mushrooms stems removed
- 100g (3.5oz) shiitake mushrooms stems removed
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp honey**
- 1 cup farro
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup fresh arugula
- 1 batch mint chimichurri see above
- additional mint leaves for serving
For the Chimichurri
- Place the herbs, shallot, garlic, chilis, and salt in a bowl. Add the olive oil and vinegar and stir to combine. Transfer to the fridge until ready to serve.
For the Melting Sweet Potato Bowls
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a large and a small baking sheet with parchment paper and set both aside.
- Whisk to combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and butter. Place the sweet potato medallions in a large bowl and pour the olive oil mixture over top. Add half of the salt and toss to coat the potatoes.
- Place the potato medallions on the large baking sheet and transfer them to the oven. Bake the potatoes for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- Once the potatoes are in the oven, dress the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in the bowl that held the potatoes and add the soy sauce and the remaining olive oil. Toss to coat. Transfer the mushrooms to the smaller baking sheet and pop them in the oven when it's time to flip the sweet potatoes – 20 minutes into their cook-time. Roast the mushrooms for the remaining 20 minutes.
- While the veggies are roasting, pour the farro into a saucepan. Add the water and the remaining salt. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the farro is tender – about 20 minutes. Drain the farro and keep warm until ready to serve.
- When the sweet potatoes come out of the oven, drizzle them immediately with the honey. Spoon the farro into bowls and top with sweet potato medallions, mushrooms, and a handful of arugula. Finish the bowls with a generous drizzle of chimichurri and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately.