Spiced Coconut and Butternut Squash Risotto (National Vegetarian Week)

Before you run a mile at the thought of being given another vegetarian risotto, this one is a little bit different. It uses pearl barley instead of risotto rice making it full of fibre, high in protein and very low fat. It’s also finished with coconut milk as opposed to heavy cream or cheese making it lower in saturated fat and it leaves a cleaner taste. Making risotto is really simple however it takes a little commitment and time, but the end result is delicious and impressive! It also has a great orange colour because of the squash puree and curry powder, so is a great looking dish too!

Spiced Coconut and Butternut Squash Risotto (Vegan & Gluten Free)

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 450g pearl barley
  • 1 litre of veg stock (I find Knorr Stock pots have the most flavour)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • half a teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • any extra veg you feel like throwing in, I like to add cauliflower to this one! Red pepper or aubergine would really well too
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds from the core and remove the hard outer skin. Chop in to even sized cubes. Place half the chunks in to a sauce pan, just cover with water and boil until softened – don’t discard the water! Drain the squash and add the reserved water to the stock, to make up 1.5 litres (add more water if needed). Doing this means any vitamins/nutrients release from the squash during cooking won’t be wasted. With the drained squash, blitz with a hand blender until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Peel and dice the onion and garlic and heat in a large pan over a gentle heat in a little olive oil. Add the remaining squash ( and any other vegetables you’re using) and cook gently until starting to soften. Add the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the pearl barley and cooking for 2-3 minutes more.

Add 2 ladles of the stock and turn up the heat to allow the ingredients to simmer. Once nearly all the stock has reduced/been absorbed, add another ladle full. Repeat this until all the stock is gone and the pearl barley is tender – you may need to add more liquid, or use less than you have, it just depends on how much the barley absorbs.

Stir in the butternut squash puree you made earlier, with the can of coconut milk and combine thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning to your taste (add more spice if you like!) and finish with the chopped fresh coriander.


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