butternut sqaush barley risotto

Butternut squash barley risotto healthy pregnancy recipe

Simply put, butternut squash is among the healthiest foods in the world, and one of the best for pregnancy – with significant amounts of potassium, folate, fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C, foods really don’t get much better and more well-rounded than this.

Serves: 4


For the risotto:

  • 1/2 of a cooked/peeled medium butternut squash
  • 2/3 c. cooked white beans
  • 1 tb coconut oil
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 c. uncooked pearl barley
  • 1/4 c. uncooked corn grits (polenta) (or substitute with additional barley)
  • 1/2 c. white cooking wine (or any white wine)
  • 1 and 1/2 c. plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • (optional) 3-4 drops liquid smoke
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tb white balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste

For the avocado basil cream:

  • 1/4 cup silken tofu
  • 1 avocado
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • a pinch of fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tb freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Red pepper flakes to taste


  1. Prep the squash and white bean puree. Combine the squash and white beans in a food processor or blender until smooth and set aside.
  2. Start the risotto. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When fully melted and warm, add the garlic, onions and celery and sautee until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the barley and corn grits, stir, and cook for another 3-5 minutes. It’s important not to skimp on this step because sauteeing the grains before adding any liquid is what gives the risotto its signature flavor – the taste of toasted barley is a beautiful thing! Add the squash and white bean puree, cooking wine, almond milk, and liquid smoke, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat back to medium.
  3. Tend to the risotto. Stir the risotto frequently (at least every 3-4 minutes, but you don’t need to obsessively stand over it). Whenever the liquid gets mostly absorbed, add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. I needed about 2 and 1/2 cups of additional broth, but it will vary. Continue with this until the barley is fully cooked and the risotto has taken on a creamy consistency. Add the oregano, paprika and vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t need much salt, since my cooking wine was seasoned).
  4. Make the avocado basil cream and serve. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it). Serve risotto in bowls, with a dollop of cream on top and optionally, additional fresh basil or parsley and black pepper.

Note: It’s best to make the avocado cream right before serving, since the avocado will oxidize and not be as pretty of a green color. When storing it, put a layer of water, oil, or plastic wrap (touching it directly) on top to preserve the color better.

A note about cooking with wine during pregnancy: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is unsafe, but what about eating foods that have been cooked with some alcohol? Realistically, foods cooked with small amounts of alcohol are safe to eat during pregnancy because of how little alcohol remains after cooking or baking food. According to the Agricultural Research Services of the United States Department of Agriculture, about 25% of the alcohol used in cooking remains after a food has been simmered or baked for about 60 minutes. 

There will still be trace amounts of alcohol in this recipe, however, so if you prefer to skip it, you can substitute the 1/4 cup white wine with any of the following non-alcoholic options:

  • 1/8 cup water and 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ginger ale
  • 1/8 cup water and 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1/4 cup water

Image and recipe reprinted with permission from www.yupitsvegan.com and www.healthyaperture.com

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