Baked barley risotto with butternut squash

Easy to make, this vegan barley risotto bakes to comforting perfection.
An ideal warming family meal on a cold winter’s day. 

This time of year demands big, warming bowls of comforting deliciousness. Or at least, it does if you’re anything like me. I can’t be the only person who feels permanently cold from about October through till March, can I?

To make matters worse, our central heating boiler recently packed up, and for a week we were without any central heating at all. Fortunately we still had hot water, a roaring wood-fire, and a selection of electric heaters that we could move from room to room, but it was still less than ideal. But every problem is an opportunity right? Time to make all kinds of warming delicious dishes that require significant spells in a hot oven! At least the kitchen was kept roasty-toasty.

Hearty and comforting

I always find barley-based dishes to be particularly filling and comforting in cold weather, so I adapted my baked risotto recipe to use barley instead of rice. Kipper still needs persuading to eat mushrooms, so to avoid any mealtime ‘discussions’ I used butternut squash as the main vegetable. And since she’s currently obsessed with cinnamon (no, I have no idea) I used it to spice up the barley risotto, along with a few other herbs and seasonings. Oh, and quite a lot of garlic. Mmm.

Easy to assemble, this barley risotto bakes to comforting perfection. An ideal warming family meal on a cold winter's day. Vegan & parve.

Easy heating solution!

This baked barley risotto was super-easy to put together, and it kept us all delightfully warm – while it was cooking, while we were eating it, and for a while afterwards too. I reheated the leftovers with a cupful of vegetable stock next day to make a thick and delicious barley soup. Two meals for the price of one!

And since there’s at least another two months of cold weather left, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to make this again.

Makes 4 generous portions of baked barley risotto with butternut squash.

Easy to assemble, this barley risotto bakes to comforting perfection. An ideal warming family meal on a cold winter's day. Vegan & parve.

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Baked barley risotto with butternut squash

Course Main Course
Cuisine European
Keyword barley, butternut squash
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 323kcal
Author Helen


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 250 g pearl barley (1¼ cups)
  • 750 ml hot vegetable stock (3⅓ cups)
  • 1 tsbp tamari or soya sauce


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into roughly 2cm (1 inch) cubes.
  • Peel the garlic cloves and crush two of them. Reserve the rest.
  • In a large, ovenproof pot, heat the olive oil and saute the cubed squash with the crushed garlic, cinnamon, smoked paprika, fennel seeds and thyme for 5-10 minutes, until the squash starts to soften and colour and the spices become fragrant.
  • Add the pearl barley and stir well to coat with the oil.
  • Stir in the stock, the reserved garlic cloves (whole), and the tamari or soya sauce. Mix well and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover the pot with a lid, remove from the heat and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for around 1 hour.
  • Remove from the oven and stir well. The barley should be soft and all the stock absorbed. If the risotto seems a little dry, stir in some hot water or stock to achieve your desired consistency.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!


The barley risotto is delicious (and vegan) as is, but can also be sprinkled with some grated parmesan or other hard cheese when serving.
323 calories, 11g fat, 6g protein, 52g carbs

If you’d like more wonderfully warming recipes using butternut squash, why not try this delicious butternut squash and mushroom cobbler, these cheesy butternut squash and spinach stuffed shells, or this lovely roasted squash and red lentil soup.

I am linking this up to Meat Free MondaysCook Blog ShareRecipe of the Week, and Cook Once Eat Twice.



  1. Pingback:Hearty veggie winter meals round up and CookBlogShare 2016 week 8 - Sneaky Veg

  2. I would agree with Kipper, I love cinnamon and it must make this winter risotto so comforting. Thank you for joining in with #CookOnceEatTwice!

  3. I often use pearl barley in risotto and find that it has a lot more flavour than arborio rice. This sounds like a delicious meal. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

  4. This is a wonderful and very unique dish 🙂
    I’d love to try it, you’ve raised my curiosity with the baked barley

  5. No you are definitely not the only one! I generally feel cold from September to June! You poor things being without central heating for so long. Brrr! Great risotto. I love the idea of doing it in the oven and butternut squash is one of my favourite risotto flavours! Eb x

  6. I’ve never tried to bake barley before. This is a side dish my family would love plus it is filled with delicious vegetables.

  7. I actually prefer barley risottos to rice ones – and baking them too! This looks so lush. And indeed a warming bowl of comforting deliciousness!

  8. I make risotto with butternut squash so I am sure that I will love it with barley!

  9. A week without heat? Yikes! Glad you had some yummy warm dishes to help you through it. I love barley and it does make such a filling meal – particularly as part of a risotto. Yum! I’ve been pretty much eating ALL the butternut squash I can get my hands on this winter so this looks especially amazing to me!

  10. I love risotto but have not tried barley. Great way to make it more healthy.

  11. I feel your pain on the heating thing, we only have solid fuel heating as there is no gas on our ‘street’, the roaring oven often provide warmth, love the sound of this dish.

  12. I’ve never tried barley risotto – looks wonderful. I love the way baked risotto frees up time in the kitchen. Definitely one to pin.

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