Pumpkin Barley Risotto

It’s still autumn, Halloween has passed but we’re still into pumpkin and everything that’s orange and golden. Those warm colours manage to trick us into forgetting that winter is coming, not in a few years, but in a few weeks. Soon, the city will look black, grey, white with different shades of blue when the sun finds the strength to get up and actually show.

I have been loving shooting photos of Paris in the fall and I know that as the temperature goes down and the trees lose all their leaves, I will have to swap my coloured film to B&W. But although the city and my photos may lose their shades, what’s in my plate will not. Just because your eyes get cold doesn’t mean your belly and heart are doomed to the same fate.

Let’s fight the cold by making bright seasonal and comforting food!
I introduce you my Pumpkin Barley Risotto!


That’s right, your heard me: barley risotto.
You may have come across it on the internet because I didn’t invent it and lots of other people have, like me, decided to swap from  the softness and creaminess of arborio rice to the chunkier texture of barley. I let the pureed pumpkin take care of the creaminess and voila!



This recipe is absolutely delicious and yet balanced and healthy.

For 2 servings, here’s what you’ll need.

-olive oil
-1 onion
-1 clove of garlic
-1 cup of barley
-150mL white wine + a splash
-3 cups of vegetable broth
-1/2 small edible pumpkin (or butternut squash) – DO NOT USE CARVING PUMPKINS (they’re bland, watery and useless for cooking – trust me, I’ve made that mistake)
-300g chestnut mushrooms
-fresh or dried herbs of choice (italian seasoning, thyme and sage work well)
-fresh parmesan


Preheat your oven at 180 degrees C.
Prepare your broth and keep it warm in a saucepan over a low heat.

-Chop 1/2 your onion very finely and toss it in another saucepan with a tbsp of olive oil on medium heat. You don’t want it to caramelise but to soften so keep an eye on it and stir it.
-Mince your garlic and add to the onion.
-Add the dried barley to the olive oil, onion and garlic and stir so the barley is completely coated.
-After two minutes, pour in your white wine and stir. Add salt and pepper.
-Once the white wine is cooked off and absorbed, pour in the saucepan one ladle of broth at a time and stir. Always wait until the broth is almost absorbed before adding another ladle.
->After 40 minutes, your barley should be nice and under but still chunky.
-Meanwhile, chop your pumpkin in wedges and place them on a baking sheet, lined with foil. Season them with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
-Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin wedges are tender.

-Slice finely the other 1/2 of your onion and toss in a frying pan with about 1tbsp olive oil. Soften the onion.
-Clean your mushrooms with a kitchen towel and slice them. Change the heat to medium high and add them to the frying pan in a single layer. Let them colour (don’t move them around too much).
-Add your herbs (chopped) and a splash of white wine.
-Remove from the heat once the onion and mushroom are nicely caramelised. Season with salt and pepper.

-Remove your pumpkin from the oven and separate the skin from the flesh. Place the flesh in a bowl and mash it with a fork.
-Add the puree to the barley once it’s fully cooked (removed from the heat) and stir. Add in some freshly grated parmesan (to your taste) and serve in a bowl or on a plate.
=> Top if with the mushroom and onion mixture and enjoy!