A bowl of butternut squash from this recipe with oranges next to the bowl on the table.

Fertility recipes: butternut squash barley risotto

Butternut squash is rich in calcium, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, and just about any other fertility-boosting nutrient that you can think of – and with the complex carbohydrates from barley, you’ll be energized all through the day.

A recipe that combines the refreshing flavor of barley risotto and butternut squash

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.

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

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