Barley Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash & Kale

This is one of my favorite dishes which I make often. I have never served it with the pine nuts or ricotta mixture. It tastes great on its own or in a wrap. Add some lean turkey or chicken breast for extra protein if you like.

Yield: 4     (serving size:  1 3/4 cups risotto; 1/4 cup ricotta; 1 tsp. pine nuts)

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

to taste fresh ground black pepper

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 (about 4 1/2-5 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 degrees. 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. Spread in a single layer and 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 ladelfuls 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.
  3. After 25 minutes, add kale . Cover pot for 3 to 4 minutes or until kale is s wilted. Remove lid and continue adding water in same manner until barley is cooked through yet firm to the bit, 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.
  4. 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.

CAL 400; FAT 9g (Sat. 2g); SOD 328mg; CHOL 0mg; CARBS 66g; FIBER 14g; PROTEIN 11g

Based on recipe from Clean Eating magazine

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