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Asparagus with pearl barley and bacon

Asparagus with pearl barley and bacon

Hearty and nutritious barley is given a makeover in this creamy springtime supper.

Ingredients

For the sauce
For the pearl barley

Preparation method

  1. For the sauce, add the woody ends of the asparagus stems to the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another five minutes. Blend the mixture and pass through a sieve into a clean saucepan. Add the cream and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  2. For the pearl barley, melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the shallot for one minute without colouring. Add the pearly barley and cook for a further minute.

  3. Add the wine to the mixture and bring to the boil, then add 325ml/11fl oz of the stock and return to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all of the stock has been absorbed. Add another 325ml/11fl oz of stock and cook for a further 20-25 minutes, or until the barley is tender. (You may need to add a little more stock.)

  4. Meanwhile, cut 4cm/1½in of the tips from the asparagus and set aside. Slice the remaining stems at an angle.

  5. Cook the asparagus tips in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, drain and refresh in salted ice water then drain again.

  6. Fry the bacon lardons in a frying pan for one minute, or until golden-brown

  7. Stir the sliced asparagus stems into the barley and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Stir in the bacon, broad beans, asparagus tips and tomatoes.

  8. To serve, froth the sauce with a hand blender. Spoon the barley into deep serving bowls and pour over the sauce.

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