Low GI & Omega 3 Rich Recipes

Recipes for healthy, slower-carb eating. Eat till you're full, feel satisfied and lose weight at the same time!

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Chicken and pumpkin barley risotto

July 22nd, 2009


This is our second barley risotto recipe. The first one was much simpler — just a plain, cheesy risotto. We decided to experiment with some roast pumpkin and crunchy snap peas for contrast. The result was utterly moreish — the barley is different to rice in that it retains a bit of chewiness, but is also a delicious nutty flavour.

The roast pumpkin worked very well to bind the risotto in much the same way arborio rice would stick together in a traditional risotto. We chopped the snap peas into 1cm pieces and added them to the risotto at the last minute, providing a pleasant contrasting crunch.

This is probably not best for a Wednesday night meal — save it for a long weekend lunch where you don’t mind standing around stirring for a long time! Despite this, it’s well worth the effort to be able to eat risotto again in a healthy, low GI, diabetes-friendly way. (Traditional arborio rice is pretty high GI at 69 — whereas barley is very low, at only 25.)

  • Serves: 8
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1.5 hours


  • 2 cups of pearl barley
  • 1.5 litres of chicken stock
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped into slices
  • half a cup of white wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • half a leek, chopped into 4mm slices and washed
  • 1 whole butternut pumpkin
  • half a cup of chopped snap peas
  • 50g of grated parmesan
  • A few sage leaves
  • half a cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil


  • Preheat your oven to 180 °C
  • Dice pumpkin into 1cm cubes
  • Put pumpkin cubes into a baking dish and cover with 500ml of chicken stock and half a cup of white wine. Sprinkle the sage leaves over the top.
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Get two saucepans – one large, heavy-based stock pot, and one medium sized one.
  • In the medium one, put the 1 litre of water and 1 litre of stock and bring to the boil
  • Meanwhile, heat your heavy-based stock pan to a high heat
  • When hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and chicken
  • Fry until the chicken is brown and deglaze with white wine, stock or water if necessary.
  • Add the chopped leek, stir, add a little chicken stock (half a cup), and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the leek is soft.
  • Remove the chicken and leek from the pan, leaving the juices behind
  • Add the pearl barley to the pan the chicken was in, and turn up to a medium heat
  • Add a further tablespoon of olive oil
  • Stir and fry for about a minute – until everything is hot
  • Next, add about half a cup of stock from the other (medium size) saucepan
  • Continue to stir the barley until the stock is absorbed
  • Repeat the process gradually adding more liquid to the stock and continuing to stir
  • This process will involve approximately 45 minutes of stirring — don’t forget about the pumpkin while you’re stirring — remove it from the oven when cooked.)
  • The pearl barley will still be a little moist at the end of 45 minutes, however you can finish the process in the oven
  • Transfer the risotto into an oven-proof pan or baking dish, and stir in the pumpkin, chicken and leek.
  • Cook at 180 °C for 20 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and stir in the finely chopped parsley, parmesan cheese and chopped peas
  • Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over it, and add salt and pepper at the table to taste.
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