Barley Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash & Kale

Fiber-rich hulled barley gives our risotto a satisfying chewy texture, and provides the perfect base to show off winter's primed butternut squash and kale!

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Edward Pond

Also known as whole-wheat barley, slower-cooking hulled barley only loses its outer hull during processing, leaving the bran layer intact (meaning more fiber and nutrients). Chewy and slightly firm when cooked, it delivers more than three times as much fiber as brown rice.

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Prep Time
60 min
60 min


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup hulled barley, rinsed
  • 12 oz kale, stemmed and chopped (4 1/2 to 5 cups)
  • 10 sun-dried tomato halves, packed in olive oil, patted dry and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (such as mint, basil, rosemary, thyme or sage)


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Spread squash on baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tsp oil, and season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Toss well to combine, then spread in a single layer. Roast until lightly browned and fork tender, flipping pieces once or twice during cooking, 35 to 40 minutes; set aside.
  2. Pour 5 cups water into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover until hot and steaming, but do not boil. Reduce heat to low to keep warm. In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat remaining 1 tsp oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and barley and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 ladlefuls of water (about 1 cup) to barley mixture and simmer over same heat, stirring occasionally, until nearly all water is absorbed. Continue adding water, 1 ladleful at a time, and simmering until nearly absorbed. After 25 minutes, add kale. Cover pot for 3 to 4 minutes or until kale is wilted. Remove lid and continue adding water in same manner until barley is cooked through yet firm to the bite, 40 to 45 minutes (you may have some water left over). Season with remaining 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and roasted squash; remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet (not nonstick) over medium-low heat. Add nuts and cook, shaking skillet often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. In a small bowl, combine ricotta and herbs. To serve, divide risotto mixture evenly among 4 bowls. Top each portion with quarter of ricotta mixture and quarter of nuts.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 3/4 c risotto, 1/4 c ricotta, 1 t pine nuts
  • Calories 400
  • Carbohydrate Content 66 g
  • Cholesterol Content 0 mg
  • Fat Content 9 g
  • Fiber Content 14 g
  • Protein Content 11 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 2 g
  • Sodium Content 328 mg
  • Sugar Content 4 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 2 g