I discovered this recipe in the October issue of Country Living a few weeks ago and I marked the page as a recipe I wanted to come back to once fall was in full swing. While I’m not sure fall has truly arrived weather wise (it was 90 degrees last Saturday) I did have a nice big butternut squash from our trip to the Berkshires sitting on my counter. And a request from my husband to make risotto again soon. So out came this recipe for a trial run.
As with the oat risotto I made a few months back, this risotto recipe isn’t made with rice, but rather with pearled barley, which has 50 percent more protein. Love that! I also really enjoy barley and had some in my pantry. This may come as a surprise to readers of this blog, but I actually followed this recipe exactly as it was written. I can’t remember the last time I did that, but risotto is a bit tempermental so I didn’t want to go messing with the quantities. The only add I made at the end was throwing some grilled chicken into the risotto for a little extra protein.
The risotto was a huge hit. The squash and lemon zest add a light sweetness to the barley. It was hard to stop eating it!
Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash
2 1/2 cup peeled, chopped butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups pearled barley
3/4 cups dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1 lemon, zested
3/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking pan and roast until tender, about 25 minutes, turning once halfway through. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium- high heat, bring broth to a gentle boil; then reduce heat to low. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add barley and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add wine and stir constantly until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup broth, 1 teaspoon thyme, and lemon zest; stir frequently until liquid is absorbed.
Repeat with remaining broth, adding 1/2 cup at a time, until barley is tender yet al dente, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Gently fold in squash and garnish with thyme.