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Barley can be dull and stodgy, but we transform the grain into a creamy risotto-esque dish. Buttery sautéed leeks and grassy, tender-crisp asparagus, along with fresh dill and tangy lemon zest and juice balance barley’s heft with springtime brightness. A little crème fraîche, sour cream’s thicker and richer—but milder-tasting—cousin, stirred in at the end of cooking gives the barley a delicious luxuriousness. The grains require about 40 minutes of simmering to become tender; this is a good time to prep the asparagus, lemon and dill.
tablespoons salted butter
pound leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise about ¼ inch thick, rinsed and drained
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