Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Butternut Barley Risotto

When I arrived at the farm on Saturday to pick up my CSA share, there was a definite chill in the air.  For the first time in a long time, I left my flip-flops by the back door and opted for my favorite sweater.  Mums and corn stalks wrapped in orange bows lined the farm store.  Pick your own pumpkin signs had replaced the pick your own raspberry signs, and the familiar smell of apple cider donuts hit me hard.  I went through the line, taking my allotment of peaches, eggplants, and apples.  Towards the very end sat a bucket full of butternut squash harvest bearing the sign, 'take one.'  For me, all of this and more signaled the arrival of fall that morning.  That single butternut squash had me falling hard for fall.

My favorite way prepare butternut squash, like most vegetables, is to roast it.  I would cut open the bright orange flesh and watch it transform into sweet magic, destined to be the star ingredient in my barley risotto.  Arborio rice is traditionally used in risotto, but I've swapped it with barley.  Barley is a great source of fiber and selenium.  It's hardy and stands up well next to the delicate and sweet squash.  I like the contrast of textures it brings to the dish as well.  I use the same method you would with a traditional risotto, slowly adding stock until the barley becomes slightly tender and creamy.  Warm and filling, it was a perfect lunch on beautiful, if slightly drizzly, fall day.  

~Butternut Barley Risotto Recipe~

1 medium butternut squash cut into 3/4"-1" pieces (approximately 6 cups)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 cup pearl barley
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
handful of parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the butternut squash cubes onto a baking sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, and using your hands, combine and coat the squash.  Cook for 30 minutes.

In a small saucepan, add the vegetable stock, bring the temperature up and keep on low heat.  You'll want to add the stock to the risotto warm.  In a large pan or Dutch oven, add onion and garlic to olive oil over medium heat, cooking for a few minutes until it softens.  Add in barley, cooking for just another minute.  Add white wine, cooking for an additional few minutes.  

Using a ladle, add in your first two ladles of stock to the barley.  It should be just enough to cover the barley.  Adjust your heat to a low-medium heat.  Let the barley cook and absorb the stock.  When the liquid has absorbed, continue this process of adding two ladles of stock at a time until you have used up the stock.  The entire process should take about 45 minutes.  The barley risotto will still retain a slight bite, but will be cooked through and creamy.  At this point, add in the cheese and chopped parsley.  Finally, carefully fold the roasted butternut squash into the barley risotto.  Serves 4.  


themoveablefeasts said...

Ohh, I've been playing around with the idea of making butternut squash risotto. I got some arborio rice, but I might add in some wild rice too... But this look great Stephanie. I love the texture of barley and I bet the flavors go really well with the squash.

PS: I am so jealous that the smell of apple cider doughnuts is a "familiar" smell!

Sue/the view from great island said...

I loved this post because even though I haven't gotten around to making butternut squash risotto yet this fall, I can live vicariously!

Lemon said...

This dish looks so so good. I would love to eat it immediately.