Speedy butternut squash barley ‘risotto’ in a frying pan and bowl

Speedy butternut squash barley ‘risotto’

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
  • Easy
  • Serves 2

Swap rice for barley to make this easy squash 'risotto' with spinach and sage. It's healthy and low in calories and fat – perfect for a quick supper

  • Healthy
low inkcal336
low infat10g
high infibre10g


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, finely chopped
  • 300g squash or pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • small handful of sage leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground mace or a good grating of nutmeg
  • 160g spinach leaves
  • 2 x 400g cans barley in water, drained
  • 300ml hot vegetable stock
  • 40g parmesan or vegetarian alternative, finely grated


  • STEP 1

    Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat, and fry the shallot with a pinch of salt for 5 mins until soft. Add the squash, garlic, sage and mace, and fry, stirring continually, for another 6-8 mins until the squash is starting to soften and the garlic is fragrant.

  • STEP 2

    Tip in the spinach and barley with some seasoning and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 4-5 mins until the spinach has wilted. Add a splash more stock or water, if you like. When the ‘risotto’ is thick and creamy, taste to see if it needs a little more mace or nutmeg and seasoning. Stir in most of the parmesan, then top with the remaining parmesan and grind over some black pepper to serve.


If you want to use dried pearled barley, cook 200g pearl barley in boiling salted water for 50 mins to 1 hr until tender with just a little firmness to the middle of the grains. Drain and rinse, then it’s ready for use in this recipe. You can also cook it for 10-15 mins in a pressure cooker, if you prefer.

Goes well with

Recipe from Good Food magazine, Christmas 2020

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