Braised Peas and Lettuce With Barley
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Pearl barley cooks more quickly than other types of barley. Bring three parts water and one part barley to a boil in a saucepan, reduce the heat, cover and cook until the barley is tender and has absorbed almost all of the liquid, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Adapted from “A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals From the Garden,” by April Bloomfield.
• 3 romaine lettuce hearts (about 12 oz.), stems trimmed of brown spots but kept intact
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to finish, divided
• 3 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
• 1 tsp. flaky sea salt, plus more as needed, divided
•1 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 lb. young onions or Spanish onions, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-in.-thick slices
• 1/2 c. dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
• 2 c. shelled fresh peas (from about 2 lb. pods); may substitute frozen
• 1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
• 2 tbsp. fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped at the last minute
• 2 c. cooked pearled barley (see Note)
Remove and reserve a few darker outer leaves from the lettuce, discarding any blemished ones. Halve the hearts lengthwise. Rinse, drain and thinly slice the reserved outer leaves.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic and cook, occasionally flipping and stirring the cloves, until they’re golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to a small bowl.
Add the lettuce heart halves to the pot, cut side down (don’t be alarmed if they spit and pop a bit), and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn them over, add 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook just until they’ve gone translucent at the stem and wilted at the tips, about 3 minutes more. It’s OK if a few leaves fall off. Transfer the halved hearts to a plate. Add the sliced lettuce and another 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pot, and cook just until wilted and almost all the liquid in the pot has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the butter. When the butter froths, add the onions, the cooked garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, then stir and cover the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and creamy but not colored, about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to high, pour in the wine and boil until it’s nearly all evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add the peas and return the cooked sliced lettuce to the pot; stir well, then return the lettuce heart halves, cut side up, to the pot along with the broth and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, prodding the lettuce and peas a bit so they’re nearly submerged. Cook just until the peas are soft but still bright green and the flavors marry, 5 minutes.
Add the mint and a healthy glug of oil, and stir in. Season lightly with salt.
Serve warm, spooned over the cooked barley.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 220 Fat 7 g Sodium 380 mg
Carbohydrates 32 g Saturated fat 2 g Protein 5 g Cholesterol 5 mg Dietary fiber 6 g