A hearty pearl barley recipe with butternut squash and curly kale - easy to make and perfect vegan comfort food. Nutritious and delicious!
🍴Why you will love this recipe
This delicious pearl barley recipe is proper comfort food. Easy to make, hearty and healthy, it will fill you up and warm you through on a chilly evening.
It is made in the same way as you would a risotto, though it needs much less stirring. Butternut squash gives the stew a smooth creaminess, and it is packed with flavour from garlic and white wine.
Pearl barley almost doubles in size as it cooks, so be prepared... what looks like a bit of a measly saucepan of ingredients soon becomes a very hearty supper with leftovers for lunch!
📝 What you need
Pearl barley is very cheap and easy to find in supermarkets. It is a great source of fibre, and has a lovely chewy texture.
Butternut squash gives a lovely creaminess to this dish - by the end of cooking it will be almost at the point of collapse.
White wine gives the sauce a rich, deep flavour. Check that your wine is vegan - if you're not sure you can consult the excellent app Barnivore.
Curly kale is a lovely green addition to this dish. If you don't have any to hand, you could use spinach or cavolo nero instead.
👩🏽🍳 How to make your pearl barley with squash and kale
For a full, printable recipe with ingredients and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this page. 👇🏼
Gently fry onion and garlic. Peel and cube the butternut squash and add to the pan.
Add white wine and pearl barley and simmer for 1-2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove any thick stems from the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Stir through the barley risotto just a minute before the end of cooking time. Toast pine nuts in a dry frying pan until just golden, then sprinkle them over the pearl barley just before serving.
🔪 Top Tips & FAQs
Keep an eye on the liquid level whilst your pearl barley is cooking. If it is looking too dry, just add a little more water, and/or put a lid on the pot as it cooks gently. If there is too much liquid left towards the end of cooking time, turn up the heat a little until it bubbles away.
The pearl barley should be just cooked through, not completely soft. Taste it near to the end of cooking time and adjust cooking time accordingly.
The texture of cooked pearl barley is compromised after freezing, so this dish is best when cooked from fresh. However there are no safety issues with freezing it so if you have leftovers
You could substitute the pearl barley in this recipe for risotto rice (arborio rice) and it would make a deliciously creamy butternut squash risotto instead.
If you have pearl barley left over from this recipe, you could try my Vegan Stew with ale and pearl barley, or Pearl Barley Risotto with mushrooms and sugar snap peas.
Pearl Barley with kale & butternut squash
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic purée
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 600 g butternut squash
- 250 g pearl barley
- 150 ml white wine check it is vegan
- 750 ml vegetable stock
- salt & black pepper
- 100 g curly kale
- fresh parsley or thyme
- 1 lemon
- handful pine nuts
- Peel and thinly slice the onion. Peel and crush the garlic cloves.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onion and garlic over a gentle heat for 5 minutes until softened.
- Meanwhile, peel and de-seed the butternut squash and cut into cubes. Add to the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the pearl barley and white wine to the pan, turn up the heat and cook for 3 minutes until most of the wine has cooked away.
- Add the stock, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove any tough stalks from the curly kale and roughly chop the leaves. Remove the stalks from the parsley and finely chop the leaves.
- Add the curly kale to the pan, and cook for a further 5 minutes until the pearl barley is tender, but still a little chewy.
- Remove from the heat, stir through the parsley and juice of the lemon.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until just turning golden brown.
- Divide the pearl barley between bowls and scatter each with the toasted pine nuts to serve.
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