Oven Barley Risotto with Winter Squash & Sage


I love Donna Hay’s No Time to Cook cookbook. True to it’s name, it has tons of simple dinner ideas that are deceptively delicious. The majority of her recipes incorporate meat, fish or seafood but they’re easily adaptable to vegetarian cuisine. Her Baked Pumpkin and Pancetta Risotto is a favorite in our house. Only hold the pancetta, please. Here’s my take on this simple dish which uses barley instead of rice and smoked tofu in place of pancetta.

Feeds 2 adults and 1 baby. For big appetites, double this recipe and enjoy leftovers for lunch the following day.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 french shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 generous tablespoon finely chopped sage leaves
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 1/3 cups no-sodium veggie stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 package smoked tofu (I use Soyarie), cut into thick matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh cracked pepper, to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Meanwhile, pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and place over medium heat – saute the shallots until soft and translucent. Stir in the dry barley and toast a couple of minutes until fragrant. Place barley and shallot mixture, squash, sage leaves and veggie stock into a baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 50 minutes — until the barley is cooked and slightly al dente.
  2. With 5 minutes left of baking time, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your skillet. Add the smoked tofu matchsticks and a generous amount of fresh black pepper – lightly fry until the tofu pieces are golden and crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Remove risotto from the oven and stir in the grated parmesan – add pepper to taste and continue stirring until the risotto thickens and remaining liquid is absorbed. Serve topped with tofu slivers. When my husband and I are feeling fancy, we drizzle our portions with a few drops truffle oil.


I love barley for so many reasons, not the least of which is it’s nutrition content. High in protein, fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin B-6, it’s one wholesome grain. Butternut squash is packed with vitamins A and C and the tofu in this dish will complete your protein load plus up your iron intake. In other words, this is one mighty meal.

2 thoughts on “Oven Barley Risotto with Winter Squash & Sage

  1. I’m making this right now! My only concern will be whether my barley will be cooked enough…I only had pot barley in the house, so I precooked it for about 30 mins before adding it to the rest to pop in the oven. The kitchen smells great! 🙂

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