Nigel Slater, the food editor of the Observer/Guardian, still rolls out good ideas for satisfying grub. Recently, I noticed a recipe of his that calls for boiling some barley, adding it to bacon still frying in its fat, tossing in some peas, and, at the end, mixing in cubes of Taleggio cheese. I decided to adapt the recipe — easy enough — for one. I decided to make it even more Spring-like. I made just enough for dinner with enough leftover for lunch.
For 1.5 or 2 servings
About a pound of fava beans removed from their large pods (a cup or so)
100g pearled barley
A couple of slugs of olive oil
2 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
Half a leek, sliced
Half a cup of fresh or frozen peas
2-3 oz Taleggio cheese, cubed
Put a pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Add the fava beans and blanch for a couple of minutes. If you have a spider scoop, fish them out of the water and let cool. Meanwhile, add the barley to the water you’ve just removed the favas from. When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cook 15-20 mins until the barley is still firm but soft enough to chew.
While the barley is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium skillet and add the bacon lardons. Fry until almost crispy. While the bacon is frying, remove the outer skins on the favas and reserve to the side. Add the sliced leeks and stir to combine in the bacon fat.
Drain the barley, shake off the excess water, and add it to the bacon and leeks. Add the shelled favas and the peas. Stir so that the bacon fat coats all the ingredients. Season according to your taste. When the peas and the barley are hot and well mixed with the bacon, scatter the cheese over, stir, and let it melt. Adjust the heat so that the cheese doesn’t burn. When the cheese has melted through the barley, turn off the heat.
If you’re eating alone, scrap half the contents of the pan into a bowl and leave the rest to cool. I ate it with a salad.
Vegetarians will omit the bacon. I imagine that olive oil on its own with a drizzle of walnut oil at the end might be very nice.