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Mushroom, butternut and sage pearl barley risotto

Ever had risotto with pearl barley? It packs an extra bite but it’s still perfectly warming with this butternut squash and mushroom sauce. Coming in at only £1.10* per person, this dish is too good to turn down. Grate a little parmesan on top for that extra cheesy finish you just love to tuck into!

Serves 4 Total Time 1hr 20 mins


  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  •  1⁄2 butternut squash (approx. 600g), diced into 2cm pieces
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  •  1.1L vegetable stock 
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated 
  • 12 sage leaves, finely chopped, plus baby leaves to serve 
  • 300g pearl barley, rinsed 
  • 60g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add the butternut squash and cook for 10 mins on a high heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. You want some of the sides to become golden brown. Then use a slotted spoon to remove to a clean bowl and set aside.
  3. Use 1 tbsp oil to cook the mushrooms in two batches, until golden brown. Try not to stir too often. This should take 6-8 mins. Remove from the dish and put to one side.
  4. Add the remaining oil to the dish, along with the onion. Cook For 8-12 mins until golden brown. While the onion cooks, heat the vegetable stock in a separate pan.
  5. Add the garlic, chopped sage and pearl barley to the casserole dish. Stir well to coat. Add the hot stock to the dish and bring to the boil.
  6. Cook for 10 mins then reduce to a simmer. Return the butternut squash to the dish and with the lid covering around 80 per cent of the top, cook for a further 40 mins.
  7. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing catches on the bottom of the dish.
  8. Test the pearl barley at this point. It should be tender but still have a little bite. If so, remove from the heat and add the parmesan; if not, cook for another 5-10 mins.
  9. If the risotto looks like it’s drying out too much during cooking, add a splash of water.
  10. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, a little parmesan and a few sage leaves fried in butter (optional).

Nutrition tip: Mushrooms are one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D. 17% of adults in the UK have insufficient vitamin D levels, although this figure may increase to around 40% during the darker winter months.

Please note these figures do not include the cost of store cupboard essentials, such as oils, salt and pepper.

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