Risotto is a dinner staple, and this recipe uses barley to put a delicious, healthier twist on the much-loved classic dish. Perfect to feed the family or a dinner for two that allows leftovers for lunch.


1 medium butternut squash peeled, deseeded and cut into bite-sized chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 garlic clove chopped

1 large white onion finely chopped

200 g barley

1.2 litres of hot vegetable stock

2 tbsp soft cheese such as mascarpone

35 g Pecorino cheese finely grated

1 tbsp walnut oil

Small bunch sage

120 g California walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the butternut squash onto a large baking tray, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place into the oven for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the garlic, onion and remaining olive oil into a large non-stick frying pan and sauté until soft. Add the barley and stir.

Place the stock into a saucepan over a low heat and add to the barley a ladleful at a time, making sure each ladleful is absorbed into the grains before adding another. Continue until the barley is cooked through but still retains a little bite.

Once the squash is cooked, mash half and keep the remaining chunks whole.

Stir the mashed squash, soft cheese and Pecorino through the cooked barley.

Place the walnut oil into a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the sage leaves and fry for 30 seconds until crispy.

Spoon the risotto onto plates and top with sage and a little of the oil from the pan. Finish each plate with the remaining chunks of butternut squash and scatter with toasted California walnuts and the crispy sage leaves to serve.

Recipe by California Walnuts