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Small plates – lamb and pearl barley, tomato salad and roasties

Small plates are all the rage at the moment. Some of my favourite London restaurants are serving them and those restaurants have become extremely popular over the last year. Take Polpo as an example. The small Beak Street Venetian restaurant did so well that owner Russell Norman quickly opened a sister restaurant, Polpetto on Dean Street above the infamous a French House watering hole. This was followed by Spuntino, a scarily cool American diner set in downtown New York in the prohibition era. This week he is also due to open his fourth, no doubt fabulous restaurant in Covent Garden, Da Polpo. I can’t wait.

So my Sunday dinner this week was mostly inspired by a few dishes that I have recently had at Polpo. Roast shoulder of Lamb with pearl barley and pan fried mushrooms, vine ripened and Golden Beauty plum tomatoes with marinated red onion, basil and radish and a simple plate of rosemary roast potatoes.

For some reason, food seems more satisfying when sharing with your fellow diners and I much prefer this to being restricted to one dish.

Serves 2 with left overs.

Lamb with pearl barley, pan fried mushrooms and British tenderheart cabbage

There was something missing with the Lamb dish. I substituted the faro for pearl barley and I think that this may have been the problem. Maybe I could have added a bit more seasoning to the pearl barley but next time, I think I will use puy lentils instead. There is quite a bit left over and I’m going to have a go at making a stew with it – I think that pearl barley is better suited for this!



800g shoulder of lamb joint
5 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
Sea salt
Black pepper
150g pearl barley
6 mushrooms
3 leaves British tenderheart cabbage
4tbsp rapeseed oil


1. Place the room temperature lamb into a dish and season with salt and pepper. Rub with 2tbsp rapeseed oil and place rosemary sprigs on top.

2. Place in the oven and let roast for 1 hour 10 minutes. The amount of time you roast the lamb for corresponds to how heavy the joint is. Allow 25 minutes for each 500g plus an extra 25 minutes.

3. Rinse the pearl barley well. Place in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Let boil for 10 minutes and then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour.

4. 10 minutes before the lamb is ready, fry your mushrooms in 2tbsp rapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper.

5. 5 minutes into cooking your mushrooms, place the cabbage into a pan of boiling water and boil for 4 minutes.

6. When the cabbage is tender, drain and add to the mushroom pan. Fry for one minute before serving.

Vine ripened tomato salad

This salad is utterly delicious – my local supermarket only had two varieties of tomatoes but I would recommend using as many different varieties that you can get your hands on. The raw red onion and radishes give the salad a welcome crunch, while the red wine vinegar provides a fantastic taste.


3 large vine ripened tomatoes
6 Golden Beauty plum tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion
Sea Salt
Black pepper
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 radishes
Handful of torn basil


1. Chop all tomatoes and place in a large salad bowl.

2. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and add black pepper.

3. Chop radishes finely and add.

4. Chop red onion finely and marinate in red wine vinegar for 20 minutes. Add to the salad, along with the torn basil just before serving.

Roast potatoes with rosemary

Despite this being a pretty standard dish, it is delicious and one of my favourites. My potatoes may look a little pale but they were crispy and oily, just how I like them!



3 large potatoes
5 garlic cloves
Sea salt
Black pepper
3 tbsp rapeseed oil


1. Peel and chop potatoes. Place in pan of boiling water and boil for 15 minutes (or until they have just started to go soft)

2. Drain and shake in the pan. Place in a roasting dish and season with salt and pepper.

3. Drizzle over the rapeseed oil and place rosemary on top.

4. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until crispy.

Serve on small plates and enjoy your feast!


  1. It all looks absolutely gorgeous but the lamb and tenderheart cabbage looks extra special. I can get very territorial over food – like Joey from Friends I’m not great at sharing.. – but I am getting better and do love having seemingly endless plates and bowls of lovely things to tuck into. Your rosemary spuds look very tasty too. Yum. x

  2. These recipes look gorgeous. Da Polpo seems to be inspiring a whole new way of sharing small plates beyond the world of tapas which is brilliant. I just posted a couple of recipes for pizzette and meatballs inspired by the Da Polpo menu but love this more British take on sharing plates. Pearl barley, mushroom and lamb sounds like an amazing combination.

    • Food for Think says

      Russell Norman really has got the concept spot on. I could eat at any of his restaurants every day!

      The Pearl Barley didn’t work as well as I thought but I think maybe it’s because I added top much and didn’t season it enough. I think it only needs a handful. I’m definitely going to try it again. x

  3. Pingback: Meatballs at The Quality Chop House « Food For Think

  4. Pingback: Pearl barley, cavolo nero, beetroot and Goats cheese risotto recipe « Food For Think

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