This one-dish, vegetarian meal is fall comfort food at its best. Earthy wild mushrooms, nutty barley and sweet butternut squash come together in an easy, nutritious meal that tastes much more involved and sinful than it is. Serves 6.
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock or broth
1 cup barley
3 cups sliced wild mushrooms, such as shiitake or baby bella
1 large sprig of fresh thyme, plus smaller sprigs for garnishing
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced onions
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups fall greens, such as spinach, arugula or baby kale
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little extra
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
Tip for preparing butternut squash: Microwaving the squash for a minute or two will soften the skin so that it can be easily peeled. Be sure to pierce the squash several times with a paring knife before microwaving.
Nutrition Tip: About 2 cups of leafy fall greens such as arugula, baby kale and spinach can be folded to the risotto along with the last addition of stock or broth in Step #4. Tougher greens like Swiss chard and escarole may be added along with the squash in Step #4.