|Butternut Squash and Spinach Barley Risotto with Goat Cheese|
This was definitely not a good dish for keeping the stove top clean but it is very healthy and incredibly tastey. You can easily use Arborio Rice instead of the Barley, though you might need more liquid. The Barley give it a lovely nutty flavour as well as a sense of round, plushy, healthy goodness. Ahhh.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Barley Risotto
150g Pearl Barley
500g (1 lb) Butternut Squash, diced
4 c Spinach Leaves, tightly packed (1/2 large bunch)
1-2 small cloves Garlic minced
100 g Soft Goat Cheese
1 c Dry White Wine
1 l Vegetable Broth
3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
1-2 T Butter
2-3 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 Shallot, minced
Truffle Oil (Optional Garnish)
I like to prep everything first.
Peel and dice 1lb of Butternut Squash into 1 cm or 1/2 inch cubes. It's about 2 c - 3 c or a Nerf ball sized Squash. Set aside.
Cut the stems off the bottom of the bunch of Spinach. It's easier than destemming after washing. Wash in a salad spinner by filling it and draining it several times. You want to make sure you completely emerse the Spinach to get all the sandy grit off it. Drain and set aside. You'll need half the bunch where the bunch was about the size of my neck (two hands). You could use more. I would have but D did not want it.
Mince the Shallot, finely and set aside. Mince the Garlic. D makes me cut out the core where it looks like a new Garlic shoot is sprouting. He heard in a cooking class once that its the part of the Garlic which causes gas. I find it annoying but it makes him happy. Wash the Thyme. I don't bother destemming.
Weigh the Pearl Barley and set aside. The only thing I did not do ahead was fuss with the cheese. I did not want it on my fingers or be tempted to eat it while cooking.
In a large skillet, add 1-2 T Olive Oil and 1 T Butter on Medium-High heat. Add the Squash and spread out. Don't move right away. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir and toss until softened and browned. 5-7 minutes total. Set aside on a plate. I use one of the dinner plates I will eat from.
In the same skillet, add 1-2 T Olive Oil and 1 T Butter on Medium heat. Add the Shallot. Soften for 2 minutes. Add the Barley and sautee as you would for rice risotto until all the grains are glistening.
The rest is very similar to the 'classic risotto' method. Add the wine and stir. Add the Thyme. Add a ladel (~3/4c) of broth and stir until mostly absorbed and repeat. It should take about 30 minutes. At about the 20 minute mark or 3-4 ladels away, add a ladel then Spinach in handfuls. It will wilt quickly. Add more as you have space. There will be space, don't worry. Add another ladel or two then add the Squash back. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper. We use Low Sodium Broth so we are sure to check.
Taste for doness and whether you want to add more broth. You want it soft but not mushy but it is a matter of taste. When you are just there. Add little bits of the Goat Cheese all over top, the last ladel and cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
Serve. Garnish with a few drops of Truffle oil if you like. I think it goes nicely with the Squash. No parmesan necessary with the Goat Cheese. MMMMM