Smoked cheddar, mushroom and leek pearl barleyotto with marmalade roast kuri squash

This is a recent creation that will turn anyone who thinks they don’t like marmalade. Marmalade is beautiful paired with a lovely smoked salty cheese. Think sweet and bitter, salty and smokey. This recipe takes the cheese and marmalade toasty up a notch.

Start by preparing your squash. Hack the squash very carefully into slim wedges, slather over some oil and season well. Bake in a hot oven for about 1/2 an hour until they start to colour and soften.

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Meanwhile soften chopped onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms and leeks in a hot pan with oil and garlic. Remember this is an English version of a risotto (using pearl barley instead of risotto rice) so think ‘English’ when adding herbs and veg. I added sage, thyme and rosemary and a bay leaf. Add the pearl barley with a generous splash of white wine, season very well and stir. Add warm water from a kettle (you can use stock if you like but I think this is unnecessary here as the veg and herbs used pretty much equates to a stock, you want these veg to speak for themselves), about a mug at a time letting the liquid absorb each time before adding the next, keep stirring and adding warm water until the barley is cooked through. Taste for seasoning, bearing in mind you still need to add the cheese which will be quite salty.

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Take the squash out of the oven and spread over some lovely glistening marmalade. About a teaspoon per wedge is plenty. Pop the squash back into the oven for another 5/10 minutes until they are properly caramelised and sticky. Grate a generous amount of good smoked cheddar into the barley and stir. Taste for seasoning and spoon into bowls. Top with the marmalade encrusted squash wedges and enjoy! Liz x

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