Amy Pennington, award-winning author of Urban Pantry, has launched a new monthly e-book cooking series called Fresh Pantry ($2.99). Each issue (available monthly around the 15th) features recipes, cooking tips and techniques, and beautiful full color photographs. The series introduces readers to the freshest seasonal ingredients one basic vegetable or fruit, one month at a time. See below for buying options.
Fresh Pantry: Winter Squash: Eat Seasonally, Cook Smart, & Learn to Love Your Squash (January release, 32 pages, 15 recipes, 23 color photos) kicks off the 12-month e-book series by featuring 15 original and inspired recipes for winter squash that will liven up your kitchen without boring your palate, such as Crispy Squash Croquettes, Breakfast Squash Bread with Streusel, Harissa-Roasted Squash, Squash & Shrimp Dumplings, and Chocolate Squash Tart.
Stay tuned on Foodista as we feature a new and exciting recipe each month from the Fresh Pantry series! February's issue, Fresh Pantry: Alliums, puts the spotlight on onions, an affordable and flavorful ingredient that is easily overlooked. The 15 recipes include spiced Leek Fritters, Citrus-Onion Meatballs, Roasted Onion Soup, and Herb Braised Leeks.
“Full of clever recipes for using your kitchen to the max…[Pennington] teaches a kitchen economy for today’s urbanite—from how to stock the pantry, to what to plant when, to how to can and preserve a variety of foods for the winter months.” —Gwyneth Paltrow, Goop
Barley Risotto with Winter Squash & Mushrooms
Serves 4 to 6
I love the idea of risotto but prefer to use a grain other than the traditional white rice. I’ve used farro in the UK and kasha in Croatia, both of which work beautifully. But pearl barley, a happy medium, is widely available in grocery stores across the country. Depending on the grain, you may need more or less stock for this recipe.
Cooking this risotto takes some time, so plan ahead. I prep the squash and mushrooms on the side and add them to the finished pot of risotto just before serving. This way, each fresh ingredient stands on its own, rewarding you with big mouthfuls of texture and flavor.
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup pearl barley
4 to 5 cups stock or water, warmed and held over low heat
1 tablespoon butter
½ pound squash (butternut squash works great), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups whole button mushrooms (chopped if small)
2 tablespoons vermouth
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan
Cover the bottom of a 5-quart stock pot with a thin layer of olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Add the onions, shallots, and a pinch of salt and pepper and stir, cooking until soft. Add the pearl barley and let sit, browning a bit, about 2 minutes more. Add 1 cup of the stock and reduce the heat to medium/medium-low. Stir until all the liquid is incorporated before adding another cup of stock. Continue stirring and adding stock, 1 cup at a time, until the barley is cooked al dente, about 40 minutes. (Cooking time can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending on the grain you choose.)
While the barley is cooking, cook the squash and mushrooms. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter to a saute pan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the squash, distributing it into a single layer in the pan. Do not move the squash; instead, cook one side at a time until brown, about 4 minutes. Once a side is brown, flip the pieces to brown another side, another 2 to 3 minutes. When all sides are brown, stir the squash only until it is golden and crispy. Add the mushrooms, stirring often until they start to release liquid.
Continue cooking the mushrooms until soft and cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes total. When they stop releasing moisture, turn the heat to medium-high and stir continuously. When the pan seems dry and the mushrooms and are beginning to brown and stick, add the vermouth to deglaze, scraping up any brown bits. Cook the squash-mushroom mixture for another minute, then remove from the heat and set aside. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When the risotto is cooked through and creamy, remove from the heat and portion out into shallow bowls. Add a spoonful of the squash and mushrooms to each bowl and shave over a generous amount of Parmesan. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Pantry note: Barley risotto holds very well covered in the fridge and should be eaten within four days. Many other grains work well using the cooking technique for risotto. Try this recipe with wheat berries, cracked wheat, farro, or even traditional Arborio rice, adjusting the amount of stock as needed for each grain.
About the Author
Amy Pennington is a cook, award-winning author, and urban farmer. Her vegetable gardening company, GoGo Green Garden, educates and inspires others to enjoy locally grown food. She has written two books, the bestselling and award-winning Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen (2010) and Apartment Gardening (2011), while her freelance articles appear in Edible Seattle, Food52.com, and other publications. She divides her time between Seattle, WA and New York, NY. Find her online at Amy-Pennington.com.