The bright beauty of wild greens shines in this simple spring dish. Barley — another whole grain — stands in for traditional Irish oats. The dandelion or nettles are keepers, though And mint, for love.
Like oats, barley benefits by cooking over low heat in a lot of liquid. Using three cups of broth yields a pilaf-like dish, while using four cups will give you something more on the order of a soupier risotto. Serve with a bountiful salad or roasted vegetables, especially earthy roasted mushrooms — foraged spring porcini, if you’re lucky enough.
* Leeks are spring-fresh, fabulous, delicate and sweet — but often gritty when you get them. Rinse well. Slice lengthwise, so you have two long strips. Thinly slice the strips crosswise, so you have a bunch of skinny leek half-moons. Fan out the leek slices, so there’s nowhere for the dirt to hide. Add leeks to a large bowl, shake in a fair amount of table salt and cover with lukewarm water. Give it a swish or two. The salt water seems to coax the dirt out of the leeks. Rinse well one last time, to get rid of both salt and grit. Pat dry and proceed in cooking.