Creamy barley & squash risotto

Creamy barley & squash risotto

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(6 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 55 mins

Skill level



Serves 4

Barley is cheaper and lighter than Italian risotto rice, you can add all the liquid at once and it's really hard to overcook

Nutrition and extra info

Additional info

  • Vegetarian
  • Healthy
Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving



  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash (600-700g), peeled and diced into small chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • small glass of white wine
  • 400g pearl barley
  • 1.2l hot vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp mascarpone
  • 50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated
  • large handful parsley, chopped

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  1. Heat the butter in a large shallow saucepan. Add the onion and squash, and cook very gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the squash is starting to soften, about 10 mins. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 min more. Splash in the white wine and boil down. Add the barley, give it a stir and pour in the stock.
  2. Gently simmer for 45 mins, stirring occasionally, until all the stock has been absorbed and the barley is tender. Add a little extra stock during cooking if it evaporates too quickly. Turn off the heat and stir through the mascarpone, half the Parmesan and all the parsley, then season. Spoon into bowls and scatter with the remaining Parmesan.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, April 2013

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Show comments
clairesastar's picture
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Never made a risotto using pearl barley before, but it works really well. Added a touch of chilli and black pepper as previous comments said it was a little bland. Also added sage and oregano as these go well with squash and I didn't have any parsley. Well received- even my usually carnivore boyfriend enjoyed it.

rachel_r's picture

As a vegetarian and not a vegan, I do eat cheese but I don't eat anything that has animal-derived products in it, so I don't eat cheese made with animal rennet (such as Parmesan).
@louweeza, you just beat me to it :-)
The recipe looks nice though, so I would either miss out the Parmesan or use grated vegetarian Cheddar instead.

fdomeniconi's picture

As far as I understand, some vegetarians do eat cheese as some eat eggs. Vegans don't eat any animal product or by-products, so the addition of parmesan cheese doesn't seem to be confusing to me here.

louweeza's picture

You missed the point that all the vegetarians were trying to make. This is not a question of veggie vs. vegan. Parmesan contains meat extracts, calf stomach to be precise. Parmesan is not suitable for vegetarians, who do otherwise eat dairy, eggs, etc.

sarahharding's picture
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We used turkey instead of squash and added a LOT more pepper plus some fresh mint after reading the above comments. Suited one son who doesn't like strong flavours and the rest of us added parmesan and pepper to taste at the table. Would use again as a base to play with as nicer texture than normal risotto.

runrosyfox's picture

Morrisson's and Sainsbury's basic range Italian hard cheese taste just like parmesan but are both vegetarian. After turning veggie, I tried for years to find a good substitute and these are both pretty good. Not as expensive as the real thing either!

chef4fun's picture
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Nice base for a risotto. Seeing other user's comments, I added Thyme, Basil, and additional garlic. Still nice and light, but I can see how it would be bland without further additions.

Also, a 10 minute prep time is seriously misleading; one of the listed ingredients is a pre-peeled and diced butternut squash. Doing that by hand makes the prep time closer to 40 minutes.

lucya12's picture
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I found this recipe really bland, I think that there are better recipes on this site. I did like the different texture that the barely gave in comparison to risotto rice.

luceybridge's picture

I think Laura T's point is that it's awkward when someone else cooks you something categorized as vegetarian when it is not and you can't eat it. Many non-vegetarians don't realize that parmesan is not vegetarian and it's embarrassing when something is served to you and you have to refuse it. It has happened me on many occasions, even in restaurants that should know better.

sarahlou0605's picture

This looks lovely - will definitely give it a try ! Regarding the previous comments, you can get a vegetarian equivalent to Parmesan so you could always use that instead.

cityofmist's picture
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I swapped out the squash and seasoning for other flavours (as well as a different cheese - as the previous commenter said, Parmesan isn't vegetarian!) but the basic recipe is really good. Not much like a traditional risotto, but the pearl barley has a really nice texture.

lauraturnbull's picture

PLEASE stop posting things as 'vegetarian' when they contain parmesan. It is confusing when for family members who don't understand why my family won'teat things that are apparently veggie. Parmesan has extracts from unweined slaughtered calves stomachs in it - clearly not suitable.