- 450g peeled butternut squash, cut into 2cm chunks
- 2 red peppers, halved, deseeded and cut into chunky pieces
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Leaves from 3 large, fresh thyme sprigs
- 350g pearl barley
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock, hot
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- 4 small handfuls wild rocket
- Vegetarian Parmesan shavings, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put the squash and peppers in a small roasting tin, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season and toss. Roast for 35 minutes or until tender, turning halfway, then remove from the oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, start the risotto. Heat the remaining oil in a medium pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme leaves and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, until softened. Add the pearl barley and cook for 1 minute.
- Add a quarter of the stock to the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the stock has been absorbed. Add another quarter of the stock and continue in this way until all the stock is absorbed – it should take about 40 minutes for the barley to be tender but still al dente.
- Stir in the parsley followed by the squash and peppers. Season and spoon into warmed bowls. Serve topped with the rocket and some Parmesan shavings.
- Some sweet notes and some herby ones too – go for a soft, ripe Mediterranean red such as a southern French Grenache or an Italian Nero d’Avola.