Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto

What a fall it has been so far. 

October, my favorite month, has proved herself well this year. 

Gypsy Slow Down

It seems like the slow stifling days of August gave way with a bang to September and I have been running ever since. With Piper's shower, our trip, Witt's surprise party (pictures coming soon!), and everything in between, I have been knee-deep in plans and pies, unpacking suitcases and making candied apples, work and life, and I am just now catching my breath and breathing in all the gratitude that this Autumn has to offer.

Today I am so thankful for...

#811 Family that jumps right in

#812 The way the light hits the top of the orange trees in the evening

#813 Friends around a bonfire and apple cider in a warm mug

#814 Turning 25 and how this is my favorite part of my life so far

#815 Hoping and Disappointment and learning about His timing

I am also thankful that November is stretching out long and without plans so far. And that tomorrow is my birthday. So while Witt will probably get up at 4:30am to swim and then go to work, I will sleep until the sun comes up softly through the blinds and then I will have a whole day until the evening to do things I have been wanting to do for a while; like make Spooky Peanut Butter Rice Krispy's (sugar/gluten free), try on tons of glasses online at Warby Parker (I really need a new pair) and do some house hunting online with Cheers reruns playing in the background. I will probably barely leave the couch. I can't wait.

Gypsy Slow Down

 It has been ages since I posted a recipe but last night I came home from work and made a really delicious butternut squash risotto and since it's the most interesting thing I've made in these busy weeks for just us I thought I should put it on here.

When I worked at Green Valley Grill in Greensboro, sometimes my managers would comp me a meal to take home. When they did I always always always ordered the Butternut Squash and Grilled Salmon Barley Salad. It doesn't sound like much, but it was. A warm barley risotto with tangy, sweet grilled salmon, buttery soft squash and parmesan cheese in a nutty delicious barley heaven.

I have been really into barley lately. It might sound like a humble ingredient but it has a silky, chewy texture and a nutty flavor. And it has more vitamins, minerals and fiber than rice. I wanted to make a dish similar to the one I loved at GVG with butternut squash and barley. I didn't have salmon and I added mustard greens so it wasn't an exact copy, but it was so good. Mustard greens have a nice slightly bitter and savory flavor that I think goes well with the buttery squash.

Gypsy Slow Down

Let's just be honest with each other, it was a Monday night and I'd been working all day and so I didn't want to make a real risotto and stand for hours over the stove, adding liquid and stirring, adding liquid and stirring, repeat 240 times.

So I just followed the water to barley ratio on the package and simmered it in chicken stock with the lid covered for about 40 minutes until it was soft. Then I added my white wine and other ingredients and let it cook for a bit longer. Here you go.

Roasted Butternut Squash Barley Risotto (Serves 4)

1 cup pearl barley
3 1/4 cups chicken stock plus 1/2 cup
1/2 cup white wine
1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
olive oil
1 head of mustard greens, stems removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest from 1/2 of a medium sized lemon
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
sprinkling of dried thyme
salt and pepper

Combine barley and 3 1/4 cups chicken stock in large pot and simmer on the stove, for about 40 minutes or until tender but al dente. Preheat oven to 400. Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until soft. Butternut squash is easiest to peel when you cut it into rounds I think, then slice the peel off of each rounds. You can remove the seeds really easy this way too. Meanwhile, in a saute pan, add garlic, a few tablespoons olive oil and the mustard greens and saute on high for about a minute. Turn heat to low and add 1/2 cup chicken stock. Let greens wilt for about 10 minutes. Add the wine wine, wilted greens, thyme and lemon zest to the barley and simmer until the wine is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper. Gently fold in parmesan cheese and butternut squash. Serve right away.

Gypsy Slow Down

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