I went over to my sister's house yesterday which was so fun. We got to chat, she let me raid her closet for clothes and we made dinner together. We didn't necessarily have a plan in mind for dinner (should we eat out or stay in?) but decided it would be more fun to make dinner together. She had a butternut squash and using that as our basis, we flipped through her magazine cutouts until we found this butternut squash barley risotto.
Selfishly, this recipe sounded perfect to me -- not only do I love making risotto (stroll through the recipe index and you'll see this is the third risotto recipe) but squash just so happens to be my fall/winter obsession every year. (Squash was one of the few foods my dad doesn't like so we never had it growing up - I'm making up for lost time!) And finally, my sister had all the ingredients on hand.
This was an amazing risotto. The squash ends up giving the risotto an (even more) incredibly creamy texture. The barley had a wonderful chew to it which was a nice contrast. It probably took us close to an hour from start to finish but I didn't feel there was a ton of prep or hands-on work (more time for us to chat!). It also makes a one-pot meal so cleanup was very, very easy.
Butternut Squash Barley Risotto
Adapted from: Real Simple
Serves 3-4 for main course, 6-8 for side dish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small butternut squash (about 11/2 pounds)—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used 1/2 cup water and 1 tbsp lemon juice instead)
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (1-2 ounces), plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add butternut squash and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
- Add the barley to the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine/water and cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 cup broth and cooking until absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring until each portion is absorbed before adding the next. Altogether, this should take about 30-40 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and butter. Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.