6 to 8
The barley brings a nutty, earthy element to this risotto, adding another complex layer of flavor. A hearty dish, it can serve as a vegetarian main course (if you use water instead of chicken stock) or as a first course or side dish to accompany braised or roasted pork or poultry.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water and to taste
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 cups pearled barley
- 8 cups chicken stock (see here)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 medium bunch kale (about 1 pound), stemmed, leaves coarsely chopped
- 4 cups ½-inch cubes butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
- ¾ cup grated Grana Padano
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the bay leaves and barley, and simmer until the barley is about halfway cooked (just beginning to become tender on the outside, hard in the center), about 30 minutes. Drain well.
Bring the stock to a bare simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat; keep it hot. Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and about ⅓ cup of the hot stock. Simmer until the stock reduces away, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, and cook until slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the drained barley, and toss to combine. Let the barley dry in the pot for a minute, then add the wine. Simmer until the wine is absorbed, then add enough of the stock just to cover the barley. Add the kale and butternut squash, and stir to combine. Simmer until the first batch of stock is absorbed, about 7 minutes. Season with the salt, and keep adding stock to cover, until the barley is creamy and the vegetables are cooked, about 15 minutes more.
Off heat, add the butter and grated cheese, mix well to combine, season with salt if necessary, and serve.