Pumpkin and chestnut barley risotto


The foodie media is full of post-Halloween ideas for pumpkin and squash. While it was tempting to feature a sweet treat (google “Tom Hunt’s pumpkin doughnut muffins”), we’ve gone for a wholesome savoury dish by Diana Henry using nutritious barley. This would be great with a side-dish of kale or cavolo nero stir-fried or roasted until a bit crispy.


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 800g chopped pumpkin or squash
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 300g pearl barley
  • 1 litre veg or chicken stock
  • 75g cooked, halved chestnuts
  • 1 tbsp chopped sage leaves (or more to taste)
  • Grated parmesan cheese


  1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and sauté the squash chunks (in two batches if necessary) until caramelised in patches. Remove squash and set aside.
  2. Add another tbsp of oil to the pan and sauté the onion, garlic and celery until pale gold.
  3. Add the barley and stir to coat in the juices. Then add the stock, a ladleful at a time. (You don’t have to stir continually as with a proper rice risotto – only from time to time. In 30 minutes, it will soften and become creamy.)
  4. At about the 15-minute mark, return the squash to the pan and mix in and continue cooking.
  5. Five minutes before the end, add the chestnuts.
  6. Add the chopped sage, check the seasoning and serve with grated parmesan cheese.