Pearl Barley with Dates, Hazelnuts and Butternut Squash

The other week my dad and i were chatting food and discussing recipes, as we frequently do, and he went off into a whole spiel about the wonderful effects Pearl Barley. He went into great detail on this ‘miracle’ ingredient has on lowering Cholesterol, fighting Diabetes, and being a great source of fiber, (he was talking about it as if he had just discovered the elixir to youth) and how i really should use it more in my cooking. First I was amazed that my dad was mistaking me for an out of shape, middle aged, sugar addict who has problems with her bowel movements and second who did he think was acting like he was introducing me to a ‘new’ ingredient that i had probably re-introduced to him after many Barley free years in the first place, that cheeky Parsnip detesting rascal.
I have long been a fan of the Pearls, either Spelt of Barley, both are fantastic and much more versatile then you Scotch Broth fans would think. For dinner i was planning a risotto-esque vibe to use up half a Butternut Squash that had been knocking about in the fridge for a couple of days. In the absence of Arborio Rice i decided it was time to experiment with my Pearl Barley, and rekindle the romance of a few ingredients i love using together, Butternut Squash, Dates and Hazelnuts.
The outcome was fab, a soft Pilaf jumble with delicious sweetness, nuttiness and crunch.

Find me making this recipe on Videojug

Serves 2
  • 250g Butternut Squash (roughly half a small Squash)
  • 1 heaped tsp Rosemary
  • 180g Pearl Barley
  • 2 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 clove of Garlic, chopped
  • 4 Spring Onions, chopped
  • 1 Chicken/ Vegetable Stock Cube
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 50g Hazelnuts, chopped
  • 50g Dates, chopped
  • 30g Parmesan


Pre-heat your over to 200 degrees celsius.

Prepare the pearl barley by adding the chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the garlic begins to caramelise then add the pearl barley. Toss the pearl barley in the pan to coat it in the garlicy oil. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the stock cube, lemon and 400ml of water. Keep the pan on a high heat, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and place a lid ajar on the pan. Cook for 45 minutes.

Cut the squash cubes of 1 inch long, 2 cm wide. Put them on a baking tray, drizzle with oil, scatter over the rosemary, and season with a generous grinding of salt and pepper. Place the tray in the oven and cook for 30-35 mins, tossing halfway through, to ensure even cooking.

For the last 10 minutes add the chopped hazelnuts to the baking tray to roast with the squash

When the barley is cooked and the squash is golden and beautifully roasted, add the dates, spring onions, hazelnuts and mix. Taste and season with salt (if needed) and black pepper.

Dollop the pearl barley pilaf into bowls and serve with shavings of parmesan.

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