Skillet

Use vegetable broth to make this barley, leek and asparagus skillet vegetarian. 

JILL SILVA, KANSAS CITY STAR

Asparagus is still delicious and abundant. Looking for a way to showcase it?

Barley is often used in soups or stews. It’s an earthy grain that complements the fresh, grassy taste of this delicate stalk and the natural sweetness of carrots.

Pearl barley has been polished, or “pearled” to remove some of the inedible hull and part of the bran. Most of the barley found in supermarkets is pearl barley, according to the Whole Grains Council. Quick-cooking pearl barley is a flake that has been partially cooked and dried for quick cooking, similar to instant oatmeal.

Serve as a main dish or side dish.

Cooking tips: If desired, substitute hulled barley, which has the outer husk removed, for the pearl barley, but it may take longer to cook. Cook the hulled barley according to package directions until just tender.

Smaller leeks are more tender than larger leeks, but either can be used in this recipe. To prepare, trim the leaf ends and trim away the root ends. Slice the leek lengthwise and wash thoroughly to remove any dirt that may have become trapped between the layers. Then slice the leeks crosswise.

Vegetarian tip: Use vegetable broth if a vegetarian dish is desired. Vegetable broth or stock is readily available; the broth is often more amber colored than chicken broth.

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