Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Kale Pesto

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Kale Pesto

I made this delicious meal on Saturday morning, after a week of meaning to but never quite having the time. It’s been a week of changing schedules, mixed up working days, and saw the boys start the day in school breakfast club for the first time.

However, this week is better – not only do Rob’s shifts fall on my work-from-home days, but now I also have a load of butternut squash risotto with the most gorgeous, fresh pesto. Lunch in the office has never been better!

For the risotto

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1½cm cubes
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 350g pearl barley
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1¼ litres stock, made with 2 vegetable stock cubes

For the pesto

  • 40g curly kale
  • 10g sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 45ml olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Toss the butternut squash in ½ tbsp of oil, then spread out on a baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes until tender and golden. 
  2. While that’s cooking, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Add the leek and cook for 6 minutes until softened and just starting to turn golden. Add the pearl barley and stir to coat in the oil. Add the wine and let it bubble, stirring, until it has almost evaporated. Add the stock, stir, lower the heat and then cover, leaving the pearl barley to simmer for 20 minutes. 
  3. Put the kale, sage, garlic and lemon juice in a mini processor (I used our Nutribullet – if you do too then add the oil before you blitz) and blitz until finely chopped. Continue to pulse, gradually pouring in the oil until you have a loose, vibrant pesto. Season, then cover and store in the fridge until needed.
  4. Put half of the roasted butternut squash in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Remove the risotto from the heat and gently stir in the squash puree. Gently fold in the remaining roasted squash and season.

Divide between four serving bowls and top each with a spoonful of the pesto.

Fancy something for dessert? How about rhubarb crumble?


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