The topping of this hearty dish is so versatile, you could serve it as a dip for nachos.
- For the barley:
- 300 g pearl barley
- 4½ cups weak vegetable stock
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- For the butter beans:
- 1 x 400 g can butter beans
- 200 g baby leeks, thinly sliced
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 T butter
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- ¼ cup cream
- to taste
- For the topping:
- 10 g sage
- 2 T olive oil
- salt, to taste
1. To make the barley, dry-fry the barley in a large, heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, until pale golden. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender and the liquid absorbed. Season to taste.
2. To make the butter beans, drain the beans well. Gently cook the leeks, covered, in 1 T oil and the butter, until soft but still pale, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining oil.
3. Stir in the garlic, then the beans. Increase the heat and fry the beans until slightly golden and crusty. Stir in the stock, then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover, then simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
4. Use a potato masher to mash about half the beans to add texture. Stir in the cream and heat through. Season to taste.
5. To make the topping, strip the sage leaves from the stems. Make sure they’re dry. Heat the olive oil in a pan and, when hot, add the sage leaves in a single layer. Watch carefully – they’ll be crisp in half a minute. Drain on kitchen paper and salt immediately.
6. To serve, spoon the butter beans over servings of barley and top with the sage leaves.
Photograph: Toby Murphy
Productions: Brita Du Plessis
Food assistant: Claire-Ellen Van Rooyen