Our second installment in the butternut squash series requires some bravery in terms of strange uses for ingredients you may have heard of but not truly enjoyed in the past.
Barley for me often evokes memories of flavorless, goopy white bits in an unpleasant beefy flavored broth from a can. However, I am open to trying new things. I first made barley as risotto when it was suggested as an alternative grain to rice and I have found I enjoy the barley as much, if not more, than the original Italian-style risotto.
When you make this recipe, you will enjoy barley as a nutty, chewy grain that holds its own amongst a rainbow of other flavors and textures in this risotto style squash dish.
So without prejudging, I encourage you to try this with barley but I am offering you an exit strategy as this dish can easily have the barley substituted with arborio rice, quinoa, wild rice or even in a pinch, cooked pasta. The liquid portion of the recipe should be adjusted to reflect the grain you choose but will be identical if you switch the barley with arborio rice.
Butternut Squash and Chard Barley Risotto with Hazelnuts
(I served this dish with chipotle bison sausage in carmelized red onions so how to create this meat side dish (easy peasy) follows the main dish recipe)
2 cups barley
4 cups broth (chicken, beef, veggie, whatever – I used chicken)
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
two large pinches red pepper flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 bunch of red chard
1/2 cup of whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
2 large red onions
8-10 bison sausages (or any other sausage but a spicy one with a hint of sweetness will pair best)
Read more for directions….