What's for dinner?

Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

I came up with this recipe one night when my intention was to make an actual butternut squash risotto using arborio rice. I could not find it anywhere in my pantry but I saw the barley there~ not getting much love. I know it can do the job of an arborio rice in that it absorbs quite well and gives the dish a creamy texture. And so a new dish is born!

dawn autumn still life golden light

Barley doesn’t have to be used accidentally just because you don’t have arborio rice like it was in my case. It can be used on purpose! It’s higher in fibre, carbohydrates, iron, potassium and calcium than arborio rice. I include a nutritional fact table for comparison below:

Arborio rice

You could make this dish with either barley or arborio rice. The choice is yours!

Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

  • Servings: 6
  • Print


  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups pearl barley
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 vegan chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 cup milk (your choice)
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • vegan nuts and seeds parmesan (for garnish)

Vegan Nuts and Seeds Parm: take 1 cup raw walnuts shelled, 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds in a heated non-stick pan and toast. Watch carefully as they can go from lightly browned to burnt quickly, continuously toss as they toast. Once nicely browned remove from heat and add into food processor. Add 1/2 cup nutritional yeast and pulse until coarse grains remain. Seal in an air tight container in the fridge.


  1. Heat oven to 400°F/200°C
  2. Prepare the butternut squash by peeling it, removing seeds and dicing it into about 1 cm sized cubes. Place on a baking sheet, oil and salt it and bake for about 30 minutes or until soft but still holds its shape.
  3. Using a large deep sided frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat.
  4. Chop the onion and add to the pan. Sautee until softened. About 5 minutes.
  5. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. About 2 minutes.
  6. Add the barley, stir to coat and toast slightly. About 5 minutes.
  7. In a separate heat safe dish dissolve the bouillon in the water.
  8. Pour in the wine. Stir until mostly absorbed then add the water one cup at a time, stirring after each addition and waiting until the water is absorbed until you add the next cup of water. This whole process can take about 30 minutes or more.
  9. Add the milk and stir. Give it a taste to see if the barley texture is soft, if not add a little more water and continue until barley is cooked.
  10. Add the sage, salt & pepper, stirring to incorporate.
  11. Add the Butternut squash and gently fold in.
  12. Serve sprinkled with vegan nuts and seeds parm.
  13. Enjoy life in the pink!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.