As the name suggests, butternut squash barley risotto is made with barley. Barley is undervalued, if we don’t count beer and whiskey production. I won’t bore you with its health benefits (barley that is, not beer and whiskey, ha) but let’s just say you should start consuming barley on a regular basis.
Substitute rice with barley whenever you can, like in this butternut squash barley risotto. I often use it in stuffed peppers, cabbage leaves, and stuffed onions. You’ll like its nutty flavor and somewhat chewy consistency.
You know how it goes – Spring, Summer, Pumpkin, Winter? Adding butternut squash to barley risotto makes it a perfect fall dish. It is nutritious enough to serve it as a main meal, but I like it alongside chicken. I have to admit, I wasn’t a big fan of pumpkins, squashes, and alike until my daughter cooked barley risotto and put butternut squash in it. It was so good, I could not stop eating it! Granted, I do limit their consumption to fall season only, but then I go all out! Savory or sweet, it doesn’t matter as long as there’s something pumpkin-y in it. Pair it with chocolate even, as I did in this cake with vertical layers. Don’t mind the photos I took ages ago, the cake really is scrumptious.
OK, so how do you make butternut squash barley risotto? Easy! You need a small butternut squash, barley, and few other ingredients. If your squash is larger in size, use those leftovers to make a delicious soup.
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½ cup pearl barley
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon each dried sage and thyme
1 cup corn
2 cups baby spinach
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring barley and 2 cups broth to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40 to 50 minutes or whatever the package instructions suggest.
Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté stirring often until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash and sauté for 5 minutes. Mix in garlic and wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add remaining broth, sage and thyme. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 20 to 25 minutes or until squash is just tender.
Stir in barley and corn. Add spinach, lemon zest, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Serve with additional Parmesan if you like. Lick the plate. Talk about it.
Next time I’ll try roasting the butternut squash in the oven, like Williams Sonoma did in this recipe.
Do you take care of your butcher blocks and wooden spoons? I suggest this product. It conditions my butcher blocks for a long life:
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