Meatless Monday: Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

What is your key food?  The ingredient that catches your eye on a menu and makes you scream, “MMMM!!! I’m having that!!!”  For me, it’s Risotto.  For my sister, it’s Goat Cheese.  For my husband, I’m thinking its Onion Straws.  The boy will eat anything that has onion straws on it.  I once discovered him eating a can of French’s Fried Onions because it kinda tasted like onion straws.  

When I came across this recipe, I thought I have to have it.  Risotto with ANYTHING would make me happy!  And, since its Meatless Monday, we’re going to use Barley, instead of the traditional Arborio rice.  Let’s pause for a word about barley:

Fun Fact #1: In medieval Europe, Barley was considered a peasant food, while the upper class consumed only breads from wheats.

Fun Fact #2: Barley contains EIGHT amino acids

Fun Fact #3: Eating whole grain barley (like we’ll be doing in a moment) regulates blood sugar for up to 10 hours after consumption!

Fun Fact #3: Barley is in beer and beer is good.

Now, a discussion on Risotto..some of the key ingredients include wine and cheese.  I mean, really the only thing that could make this dish better is if you could some how get chocolate in the mix.  I know, I know that would be gross, but it’s an interesting concept, just the same.

So, with all this in mind, Barley Risotto makes the perfect dish for a Meatless Monday. 



Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash


Adapted from

For the Barley

1 C Barley

4 C Water

1 C dry white wine

2 tsp salt


To Complete the Dish:

2 C Butternut Squash, cubed and roasted

1 Tb Olive oil

1 small onion chopped

1/3 C dry white wine

1/2 C Parmesan Cheese

1 Tb fresh thyme

1 tsp saffron threads

1 tsp freshly ground pepper


To Roast Squash:

Preheat oven to 400

Peel and cube squash.  Place on a sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.


For the Barley:

Bring the water, wine and salt to a simmer in a pot over medium-low heat.

 Add the barley, stirring frequently, and cook for an hour or until the barley is cooked through.


To Complete:

Place a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add a olive oil, then add chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. 

Add the white wine and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the wine reduces slightly.  Pour the barley and its liquid into the pan.  Add the cooked squash.  Add additional water or chicken broth to bring the risotto to preferred consistency.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, add spices.  Enjoy!



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