July 14, 2017










Serves 6 





500g pearl barley

700g butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed 

4 Tbs. olive oil

2 litres chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 handful of thyme, leaves picked 

2 Tbs. salted butter 

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper


To serve 

4 Tbs. toasted cashew nuts, 

6 rashers streaky bacon

Fresh Rocket 




In a saucepan over medium heat, heat up the chicken stock, alternatively to make this vegetarian use vegetable stock, and emit the bacon.



Fry off your bacon till crispy - allow to drain on paper towel, and put aside.  I saved the bacon fat from the frying pan and poured it into the large pot; to which I added the olive oil, onions & garlic.


In a dry small pan, lightly toast the cashews.  Always keep an eye open while toasting any nuts, they turn very quickly and next thing you know they will be burnt. 




Prepare your vegetables; peel and chop the onion, crush the garlic cloves and peel & cube the butternut.



In a large saucepan over medium heat,  add the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until it is translucent, soft and caramelised.



Add the cubed butternut and cook for 1 minute, stirring a few times.



Then, add the barley and stir thoroughly for about 2 minutes in order to coat well with olive oil and slightly toast the barley .



Add a soup ladle or two of the chicken stock until the barley is just covered, and stir continuously with a wooden spoon.  When the stock is almost completely absorbed, add the thyme leaves and repeat this process for about 30 minutes. Be aware of the barley sticking to the bottom of the pan. Do not give up stirring, it will be worth it.


I used a potato masher and once the butternut was soft mashed some of the butternut, and left some cubes.  This gives you a nice orange puree through the barley and yet leaves some texture with the remaining cubes.



Now add the butter & parmesan.  Season to taste.


To serve top with toasted chopped cashews and crumbled bacon - some wild or micro rocket would be a great addition too.








This recipe was born from an unused bag of pearl barley, some parmesan cheese waiting to be glorified and a beautiful gift of Croatian Olive oil from my parents, who had just returned from a trip to Croatia.


I adore risotto if executed correctly, and found the substitution of pearl barley intriguing and laden with great health benefits.  It is a healthy high fibre, high protein whole grain that can reduce risk of coronary heart disease and lower cholesterol.  Barley is virtually fat & cholesterol free! How great is that?  I of course added some butter and bacon, but this can easily be omitted. This is such a versatile healthy base, where you could add just about anything you have in your fridge.  The perfect winter fuel.  Happy Cooking! 



Photography by Timothy Bowles  

Styling & Editing by Megan Kate Swan


Find the printable version of the recipe here.


Source: Adapted from Honest Cooking

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