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Barley Risotto with Kabocha Squash and Crispy Kale

This recipe if courtesy of Lauren Feldman, local Seattle chef and an amazing cooking teacher. We made this dish last night in Lauren's "Grains Workshop", and it was absolutely stupendous. You will never look at barley the same way. Perfect winter fare, and risotto (or orzotto) the color of Halloween. An absolute must-try.

ingredients
4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
1 cup pearled barley
½ cup diced leek
¼ cup sherry or white wine
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
¼ cup toasted almonds or hazelnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Grind or two of white pepper
Olive oil
Crispy kale (recipe follows)

directions
1. Put the stock of choice in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2. In a medium sized saucepan sauté the leeks gently in a little olive oil until tender. Add the barley and toss to coat the barley and toast a little. Deglaze with the sherry or white wine.

3. Ladle by ladle add stock to the risotto letting the liquid almost completely absorb before adding the next addition. Stir the risotto frequently, but do not worry about stirring it constantly. You can walk away form time to time. Check the consistency of the barley. It should be tender but still chewy. You may need more liquid, or you may have some left over.

4. When the barley is cooked to your liking, add the roasted squash in chunks. Season with salt and pepper and add a touch more stock to loosen up the squash and create a creamy consistency.

5. Add the thyme, Parmesan and butter. Season with white pepper, just a touch. Finally, stir in the nuts and parsley. Serve with crispy kale perched on top.

serves 4-6 (c) Lauren Feldman
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