This recipe sings of spring. It’s a salad of sorts, fresh and light, served warm for lunch or dinner. This is a slight adaptation of one of the very first recipes I wrote for my first cookbook and I have been cooking it ever since. Fluffy pearl barley with crunchy asparagus, buttery broad beans and toasted hazelnuts tossed in olive oil with fresh mint to really bring it to life.
140g pearl barley
Cracked black pepper
200g broad beans
8 small asparagus
Small bunch of mint
Juice of 1 lemon
Place the pearl barley in a saucepan and wash it thoroughly under cold water. Drain off the water and then cover it in three times the amount of water and a good pinch of salt. Place on a high heat and bring the water to the boil. Simmer for 20–25 minutes until the pearl barley has doubled inside and is soft and chewy but not hard. Drain in a sieve and set aside.
Remove the broad beans from their pod. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and drop the beans into the water for around 3 minutes, then drain and run under cold water to cool. Now remove the skin of the beans, you don’t have to do this, but the reward is vibrant pops of green!
Remove the harder ends of the asparagus and roughly chop them into 1-inch pieces. Heat a little olive oil in a small frying pan and gently sauté the asparagus, adding a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper.
Lightly toast your hazelnuts. You can do this in the oven for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees or in a small frying pan for a few minutes, shaking the pan constantly to ensure they don’t burn. Once cooked leave them to cool and then roughly chop them.
Finely chop your mint leaves.
Now the dish is ready to bring together. Place the pearl barley in a large mixing bowl and add the asparagus, broad beans, hazelnuts, lemon juice, a good glug of olive oil and the chopped mint. Season to taste and serve warm.