November 10, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin and Pearl Barley Risotto

The best time for me to clear my thoughts is during my daily walks. Thankfully, even with a sore back I've still been able to continue with my walks (although at a slower pace) and I always find that these walks are so important for me to either re-focus after a working day or to set my mind to a new day (if I walk in the morning).

Don't get me wrong, these are no leisury strolls down the street; I've got long legs and I'm used to walking fast so I can definitely get a good exercise during my walk through a varying terrain. In Finland I used to do a lot of Nordic walking; up and down the hilly landscape during the snowless months and when the new snow fell all I had to do was to put skis on and off I went again. I've always been a sporty, outdoorsy person and these exercises are absolutely vital for my physical and mental well-being.

This recipe dawned to me during one of my walks. I was so excited to go home and try it and I'm so glad to report it turned out exactly like I had imagined! This is definitely one of my favourite dishes!

Roasted Pumpkin and Pearl Barley Risotto

750g Jap pumpkin (kabocha)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
Himalayan pink rock salt
ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp walnut oil

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
1,5 cups pear barley
1 litre organic vegetable stock

low-fat feta cheese, to serve
pine nuts, toasted, to serve
walnut oil, extra, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the peel of the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into small chunks and place on a roasting tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle on the herbs, seasoning and the oil and toss well to combine. Arrange the pumpkin evenly on the tray, then bake for 20 minutes or until fully tender. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until soften. Add the barley and stir through. Add the stock, bring to boil and let simmer stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes.

In the mean while, place the pumpkin into a bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add one teaspoon of walnut oil and process again to mix. Once the barley has cooked through, add the pumpkin puree and let simmer for a further few minutes.

Serve the barley risotto with crumbled low-fat feta cheese, toasted pine nuts and a drizzling of walnut oil.