Meatless Monday #6: Butternut and Pearl Barley Risotto

I remember my mom cooking pearl barley. As a child I found it boring and bland. But after trying this risotto I am rethinking my relationship with barley. This risotto is anything but bland. I am yet to eat a risotto I did not like, including this one. If you are looking for a healthier risotto option, this recipe is for you as barley is high in fiber and calcium. High fiber is known to help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as aiding weight loss and improving digestion.

You will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium butternut, peeled and cut into little pieces

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon fine Himalayan salt

½ teaspoon freshly grinded pepper

A few chili flakes (optional)

1 cup pearl barley

½ cup dry white wine (I used https://www.dutoitskloof.co.za/ Chenin Blanc)

3 – 4 cups of vegetable stock

½ cup finely grated Parmesan/hard cheese plus shavings for serving

A handful of shallow fried sage leaves for serving (optional)

This is how:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof saucepan at a medium heat. Sauté the butternut for 6-8 minutes until the edges of the pumpkin begin to brown and it is tender.

Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper and chili flakes and sauté for a minute or two. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the barley and cook for a minute until opaque. Now add the wine and let it bubble away until absorbed by the barley.

Add the stock to the mixture and bring to the boil. Cover the saucepan with a lid and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30-40minutes until the barley is tender.

Remove from the oven and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with shavings of Parmesan and shallow fried sage leaves.

Enjoy!

xxx

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