Another tasty risotto inspired dish by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This one was based on his Swede Speltotto from the “River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes” cookbook, but we used – as also referenced as alternatives in the recipe – oven roasted butternut squash and pearl barley instead of the swedes and spelt.

What worked and what didn’t:
The slightly chewy and nutty pearl barley goes very well with the sweetness of the butternut squash. Besides the parsley and some salt and pepper, it does not really need other seasonings as the barley itself is cooked in stock and finished off with nutmeg. A quick note here: at first I did add half (instead of a quarter) of the stock to get the barley adequately covered.

Recipe accuracy:
In the recipe, it says the prep time is 15 minutes and the cooking time 25 minutes. That is meant for the spelt and swedes, but it is also pretty accurate if you opt for using pearl barley.

The barley we bought needed to be cooked for at least 25 minutes, so with prepping and sautéing the onions and garlic and barley before adding the vegetable stock, you are quickly looking at 45-50 minutes overall cooking time. Which isn’t bad at all as oven roasting the cubed butternut squash takes about 30 minutes too. So when both are ready, you just have to mix them together with some parmesan and serve!

Suggested tweaks:
You can also roast the butternut squash with some pumpkin spices or with some thyme.

Verdict: 8/10; it will be made again.

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