Italian Main course Vegetarian

Pearl barley risotto with roasted squash, red peppers and rocket

Pearl barley is a great substitute for a traditional risotto, you don’t need to stir it the way you would with rice so it’s less time intensive to make


Cooking time
1 hour 30 mins

1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
extra-virgin olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
175g pearl barley
750ml vegetable stock
chopped parsley, acouple of handfuls of rocket and parmesan shavings to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the squash and peppers in a roasting tray with a good drizzle of olive oil and the leaves picked from the thyme sprigs. Season and toss well and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until tender. Give it a good mix halfway through.

Pour the stock into a small pan and keep warm over a low heat.

Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in another pan (I used a deep-sided frying pan with a lid) and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add the barley and cook for one minute.

Start adding the stock a ladle or two at a time, stirring well and making sure all the stock has been absorbed before adding more. This will take 30-40 minutes – the barley should be tender but still al dente. When you’re happy that it’s cooked, put the lid on, turn the heat off and leave to stand.

Take the squash and peppers out of the oven. Add these to the risotto with the parsley and gently mix through. Divide between two warmed bowls and top each with the rocket and parmesan. Another drizzle of olive oil and some balck pepper and you’re good to go.

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