Borrowed from Real Simple, this doesn’t look all that thrilling, but it’s surprisingly tasty, and worked out really great for a quick weeknight meal.  Have everything ready to go, or get it started and then finish it all by baking it in the oven.  I always use pot barley – pearl barley cooks faster, but pot barley has more fiber and nutrients – enjoy!

Barley Butternut Risotto

3 c. cubed butternut squash

1 onion, finely chopped

1 t. salt and 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper

1 c. pot barley

1/2 c. dry white wine

3 to 4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable)

1 package (10 oz/300 g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of water

1/2 c. fresh Parmesan, grated + extra for garnish

Saute the squash and onion in a bit of olive oil in a large skillet (or oven proof pot if you’ll be finishing it by baking it) for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened, and season with the salt and pepper.  Add the barley and cook while stirring for a minute, then add in the wine and cook and stir until it has evaporated.

Add 3 cups of the broth and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring – here is where you can cover it up and transfer it to a 400 oven for 30 to 40 minutes – just check it to see if it needs more liquid.  I used the stove-top method and simmered it all for a good 20 minutes until the barley was tender (using about 3 1/2 cups of broth), and there was very little liquid left.

Stir in the spinach and simmer for a minute to make sure it’s heated through, then remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the Parmesan and serve.

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