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This one-pot dish from chef Carla Hall is basically spring in a bowl, bursting with fresh asparagus, tender green peas, lemon, and mint. It’s important to buy pearl barley for this recipe: Compared to whole grain hulled barley, which is chewy and requires lots of cooking liquid, the pearl barley used here cooks in less time and results in a creamier texture (think arborio rice). Another quick-cooking grain like pearled farro would also work well here. Making Hall’s Fennel Potlikker is a crucial first step here, so be sure to read through that recipe first.

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4 servings


Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil


lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1″ pieces


cup pearl barley


cups Fennel Potlikker (add water if short)


Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more


cup fresh or frozen green peas


tsp. fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper


Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest


cup mint leaves


Step 1

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium. Cook asparagus, stirring often, until softened and bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

Step 2

Increase heat to medium-high and add barley to pot. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add potlikker and 1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer until barley is tender and doubled in size and liquid is absorbed, 25–30 minutes.

Step 3

Uncover pot and stir in peas. Cook until peas are tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and reserved asparagus; season with salt and pepper.

Step 4

Divide barley among bowls. Top with lemon zest and mint.