Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

Have you all tried barley yet? You might be skeptical, as I was at first. “Barley? Isn’t that something cows eat?!?” But I read an article about the health benefits of barley and decided to try it out. And I am so glad I did! Barley has quickly turned into my new favorite grain. I think it tastes like a heartier version of brown rice, and I am happy to say it passes he husband test! Every time I try out a new health food I kind of hold my breath as I serve it to my husband to see if he a) looks at me like I’m crazy (this happens pretty often) or b) spits it out in disgust (never happened yet but I’m still worried! :) ). Not so with the barley! He loved it and I think you will too! 

Baking the barley “risotto” not only creates a super moist, flavorful dish, but it i also so easy! Once you have everything in the pot, throw it in the oven, and have a glass of wine while watching the Bachelor while your dinner cooks! Can you believe Courtney is still on?!!!! Ok, ok, that is a whole different post :)

What’s the best way to start most recipes in my opinion? Onions and garlic! Chop one large onion and get it into a hot oven save dutch oven or sauce pan. Cook 3-5 minutes and add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.

Mmmm, I can almost smell it now! Cook briefly, 1-2 minutes and add about 1/2 cup dry white wine. You’ll have plenty leftover to drink while dinner cooks!

Make sure to scrape up all those delicious browned bits of flavor! Next up add the barley and the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a boil, cover and transfer to a 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

After a glass of wine and one or two hometown dates, your barley will be plump, moist, and infused with all that flavor. Add in one small butternut squash, roasted. I had roasted mine earlier, but you can also roast yours right along with your barley. Just dice the squash into about 1 inch cubes, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in a 400 degree oven 35-50 minutes.

Then add in a few big handfuls of baby spinach. Add more than you think because it will shrink down to nothing as soon as it hits the heat.

Put the top back on your pot and pop back in the oven for about 10 minutes, just enough to heat the squash and spinach through. Remove from the oven and give a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Don’t worry, it is impossible to go overboard here!

This is a perfect meatless main course or would work wonderfully alongside some grilled chicken or pork as a side dish. Don’t be afraid to try barley, I think you’ll love it as much as I did!


Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • several big handfuls baby spinach
  • lots of grated parmesan cheese (1/2 cup or more!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For Squash: Pre-roast squash if desired. Cube squash, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 35-50 minutes. This can also be done at the same time you bake your barley.

For Barley: Heat your oil in a large dutch oven. Add onions and cook 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for about 1 minute. Add barley and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, add squash and spinach. Stir and return to the oven for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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  1. Sarah says:

    Oh my!!!! You are amazing. That looks sooo good. Adding it to my list of things to try, um…ASAP! Thank you for the recipe, and for all the photos too.

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