Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Did you Know Barley in Spanish is Cebada?

Risotto Style Barley with Winter Squash.

Local ingredients used: barley, winter squash, goat cheese - which are really the main ingredients in the dish.

I think barley may be my favorite grain, I really like the texture. I usually describe it as "meaty" which I guess my discourage vegetarians, but it shouldn't. Chewy is another possible adjective. Risotto style barley is not a typical or authentic risotto by any means. And I am not really even sure if this should qualify as risotto style, since you don't have to slowly add the liquid as it is absorbed which I feel is key to risotto. But you do add wine, and it is fairly creamy.

I don't actually remember what type of squash I used. It was probably butternut, but I can't be sure. Neither do I know how many types of winter squash are out there, but there are tons! I was talking with a farmer the other day who said that they personally grow about 25 varieties. I haven't found one I like significantly more than butternut though.

You could do this with pretty much any vegetable instead of squash, I have made it with mushrooms several times. I topped the "risotto" with goat cheese and walnuts. Goat cheese because it is delicious and walnuts because they are delicious, but also because this dish could be considered mushy and the walnuts add a really nice crunch.

Risotto Style Barley:
4 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken etc. I use the little cubes)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Other good "winter" seasonings include rosemary, thyme, or sage - I might add 1/2 to 1 tsp of each, or none
2 tsp. butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup pearled barley
1 winter squash chopped and seeded (I wash my winter squashes but I DO NOT peel them, the skin gets tender and with butternut squash in particular I think tastes delicious, plus many nutrients are in the skin)
1/2 cup white wine
Toppings: toasted walnuts, goat cheese

Start boiling the cubed and seeded winter squash in enough water to cover it
Heat butter in a large sauce pan and add onions. Cook until translucent. Add any seasonings and cook 1 or 2 more minutes. Add barley and saute another minute or two. Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

Meanwhile, when the squash is tender - about 30 minutes later - mash it up.

When the barley has absorbed the broth, add the wine and stir. Now add the mashed up squash. Now you are done. Each person can put their own toppings on, or you could, it doesn't really matter.


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