Orzotto of Pearl Barley & Squash

topped with roasted squash, bacon & sage

Take 1/2 of the squash, remove the outer skin and dice into smallish cubes. Dice the shallots as small as possible and finely chop 1/2 of the sage.

Take a pan , add a little oil, and place on a hob at a medium heat.

Add the diced squash cubes, shallots and sage, followed by 2 cloves of crushed garlic and stir through.

After a couple of minutes add the pearl barley and 1/2 the vegetable stock. Reduce to a medium to low heat and stir regularly. To ensure the pearl barley does not become too dry, try to keep a soggy consistency by adding small amounts of stock or water once you have used all the stock. It will need roughly 40 minutes of simmering and stirring.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Chop the remaining 1/2 of the squash into cubes roughly 1” in diameter. Place on a roasting tray with a little oil covering and a scattering of salt and place in the oven. They will need roughly 40 minutes and a turn halfway through.

When the orzotto and squash are nearly done, take a small frying pan and put to a medium heat. Slice the bacon into strips and add to the frying pan with a little oil. When most of the fat has been released from the bacon add the remaining sage leaves. Cook the bacon until it is at your preferred level of crispiness. Then remove the squash from the oven, combining the bacon and sage and set aside.

When the pearl barely looks done add a good splash of water, grate in the parmesan, and add a generous amount of cracked black pepper. Stir through and remove from the hob.

Finally add a knob of butter and stir through again. To serve, plate up a good helping of pearly barley orzotto, then add the squash, bacon, and sage piled on top.


The Italians are without a doubt the kings of risotto; orzotto is the name given to a risotto type dish that uses barley instead of rice. Pearl barley is a great alternative to the more commonly used arborio rice. Pearly barley has a chewy texture that is flavoursome, it is also a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Barley remains the second largest arable crop grown in the UK, largely due to its resistance to our cold and wet climates.

From our fields

Pearl barley is not classed as a whole wheat, all barley must have the hull removed to make it edible but pearl barley is then polished to remove the bran coating making it easier to cook and a little lighter in taste.

Exmoor, Devon
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