Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale


An Autumnal risotto that is a lovely alternative recipe for when you want to do something a little more sophisticated but yet its still a great frugal “fridge raid” recipe.
 Risottos are a great way of using up what veg you need to. Plus with this dish you are using up any Pumpkin you may still have lying around as many just get thrown away or not bought at all throughout their season. Many just used for decoration. 
  You can even get the children involved in helping squeezing out all the orange coloured flesh.
 Use the Seeds by roasting them in the oven as a tasty snack and if you have any Risotto leftover, make Arancini the next day.
  Leeks and Kale are also in season at this time of year so if you like to cook along with them like me, this is the perfect dish for you.

 I did this recipe first for BBC Radio Leicester on my regular cooking slot for Ben Jackson’s show.  However this time, Ed Stagg was filling in for him. You can hear me showing Ed here how to make it.

 It was so popular, I decided to then do it for my weekly column.

Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale:


1-2 tbsp Rapeseed oil

2-3 handfuls of Carnaroli risotto rice
a good splash of dry white wine
a handful of pearl barley cooked in a little chicken stock 
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 medium sized onion diced finely
1/4 leek sliced
1/4 small farmed pumpkin peeled and diced. Plus use some of the flesh inside to squeeze out the orange juice. ( I bought mine from a local Farm called Cattow’s Farm)
800ml homemade chicken stock or 1 gel pot chicken stock to 800ml water, can use veg stock if keeping vegetarian
2 rashers of smoked bacon sliced
Few gratings of parmesan cheese ( parmigiano reggiano )
handful of unsalted butter cold and diced
cracked black pepper to season 

Crispy Kale: 

A few handfuls of Curly kale

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
sprinkle of sea salt to season and sugar


*  Cook off pearl barley to packet instructions.

*  Sweat off chopped onion in a pan and cook until starting to go translucent 

*  Add garlic, stir and then pop in your rice. Stir but not too much.Then de glaze your pan with wine.Cook until starting to reduce.

*  Add in hot Chicken stock then ladle by ladle for about 10 minutes, not allowing to stick, but not string too much as this will make the rice glutinous

*  pop in your Kale in the oven on 200c or 190 fan for 5 minutes.

*  Add in your chopped pumpkin to the risotto and cook for further 5 minutes, then add your leek and cook for a further 3 minutes.

*  Fry off your bacon in a separate pan till it goes crispy on the edges

*  Then add in your cooked pearl barley and stir only a little. Here you can squeeze the inside bright coloured flesh into the risotto to make an orange colour

*  Add your butter to the risotto, plus a little parmesan and cracked black pepper,  turn the heat off and cover with a lid.

*  Serve in large bowls, top with the bacon, then kale and a snow of parmesan.

Talking Leftovers on Rupal Rajani’s show for BBC Radio leicester

Back in October, I was asked by the lovely Rupal Rajani to appear on her Lunchtime show on BBC Radio Leicester. I regular already appear on BBC Radio Leicester as a Food Friday cook on Ben Jackson’s show.  However, Rupal was doing a Food Waste Challenge for a national campaign called Love Food Hate Waste. This is supported by our Leicestershire County Council. 
Matt Copley had contacted her about this.  They teach people how to make their food last longer through leftovers, storage and saving money on their food shopping Bills.  Rupal was doing really well but wanted to find out more of how herself and her listeners could make their leftovers go that bit further. So I was thoroughly pleased and honoured to help Rupal and appear on her show.

  I had heard a lady previously on the show who was on the challenge also chatting about the fact that she was throwing away bread crusts as her children didn’t like them.  Immediately my head was bouncing with ideas and I wanted to shout out above the rooftops to people on how they could use them. I decided that I would talk about Leftover Bread and give my routine of what I do at home…

You can hear Rupal and I here on this link:

   I assumed that most people acted the same way I do with saving leftovers but it appeared I had inherited the name of being a bit of a, and I quote, from Mr Ben Jackson “A Leftover Queen”!  I quite liked that title, I knew then, that maybe I was doing a bit more than others and once I had been on the show, I knew I could help people with my background, especially from being a Chef.  We are always taught to never throw things away. Of course using things in a safe and correct manner I must add though.  I suppose my knowledge of this always started from being a young child. My Grandma did it, My Mum and Dad did it and as I am a miners daughter, throughout the miners strike in the early eighties I saw my mum always trying to make meals stretch for us. 


I had taken in Arancini, which is leftover Risotto rolled into balls, stuffed with Mozzarella, covered in breadcrumbs (Leftover bread) and deep fried. Well, they went down so well, I didn’t have chance to even take a photo of them! The Staff at BBC Radio Leicester Woofed them down! I was thoroughly pleased.  I can always do another version again as whenever I make risotto I purposely do a little more so I can have these for lunch the next day.

Another thing I talk about is making your own tortilla chips which is so unbelievably easy! So I thought I’d share this with you:

*  If you have any Tortilla wraps leftover from such as making fajitas, cut them into triangles, pop onto a baking tray like so:

*  Drizzle with Rapeseed/olive oil and pop what ever seasoning you want, I.E Chilli, Garlic, Paprika or even just sea salt and cracked black pepper! I used a moroccan spice named Ras el hanout on mine. You could even do 5 spice, jerk and even a cinnamon sweet one with Christmas round the corner!

*  Pop in an oven that has been heated to 190c and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  You can deep fry them, but this is healthier alternative.

There you have it… A Homemade snack for film night! 

 Rupal did really well on her challenge, I think overall she saved about £5-6 a week and continues to do it now. If you need any help, tips or advice on this just let me know? as I’d Love to hear from you.  You will also see other leftover recipes appearing soon on here as usual and I will be including lots of Christmas leftover recipes also which I will be sharing some of my personal recipes of which I have been doing for years.

I shall finish off with showing you this Bread Loaf which I haven’t used so it is going in my freezer as if friends/family are coming round for a tipple and I like to put out some nibbles, then this is great to slice into Crostini’s / Bruschetta’s , pop on whatever you have in the fridge in terms of Meats, chutneys and cheese and there you have a cheap and easy Canapé.

Saturday Night Food…Dinner Party anyone?

Following on from a great day I had with Ben Jackson for Food Friday, Saturday came and I was still so full of cooking energy and immediately wanted to come up with something new again! 
  Now, not always does this happen straight off when recipe developing and with a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc being in my system (evening by this time),  I didn’t think I was going to be as pleased as I was with this recipe.  
   This may not be everyones “Cup of tea” I realise that, but I felt it was the nicest risotto I had made in a long time. I am yet to cook this for my fiancé as he was away at the time and I am intrigued to see what he thinks also, he’s always honest! 

  So, from the recipe that I had done the day before, I had bits and bobs left over in the fridge including some of the lovely Pearl Barley I had pre cooked. There were bacon opened as I fancied a BLT for breakfast, anyway you get the gist!
   This is what I came up with in the end.  It took me a long time to figure out a title name for the recipe as theres a lot going on in it, but it came to me that the title for this is right really. Its leftover ingredients but not with Potato in this instance. Even though it doesn’t have specific Springtime ingredients in this, It did make me think of Spring when I dived into it.

My 2 Grain Bubble and Squeak Risotto with Bacon,  Poached Egg and vegetable crisps.


(Serves 2 as a large portion or may stretch to 4 for starters)

–  1 Tbsp Olive or Rapeseed oil
–  2 Knobs of Butter
–  1-2 Garlic cloves chopped
–  1 small Onion diced
–  2 rashers of Bacon
–  2-3 leaves of Savoy Cabbage sliced thinly
–  3-4 Chestnut mushrooms chopped small
–  1/4 of a leek sliced thinly
–  100g of cooked Pearl Barley
– 150g of Arborio Rice
–  175ml of Dry White Wine ( 1 Glass for yourself also! )
–  500ml of Chicken stock keeping hot.
–  Sprig of fresh Thyme
–  Eggs for Poaching
– 1 Parsnip and a small amount of Butternut Squash for the Vegetable Crisps
– Vegetable Oil for the frying of the Crisps
–  Sprinkle of caster Sugar for the Crisps
–  Salt and Cracked Black Pepper for seasoning 
–  Grated Parmesan Cheese to finish

Fry off the Onion and Leek in some olive oil, then when starting to sweat down a little, add the butter.

 Add the Bacon, Mushrooms, 1/4 of the Cabbage first, Garlic and Thyme.

 Once cooked down a bit add in the risotto rice, stir gently and add your wine. Once the wine has almost evaporated you can add your Hot Chicken Stock a bit at a time.

 Whilst the Risotto is cooking away, Peel your Parsnip and Butternut Squash very thinly like so and fry off in oil. I have used a Wok but if you have a Deep Fat Fryer, great! 

 They only take about a minute. Once starting to brown, bring them out onto Kitchen Paper. Sprinkle with a tiny amount of Caster sugar.

 Add the rest of your Cabbage and Pearl Barley to the Risotto, Poach your egg and finish with another knob of Butter, parmesan Cheese and any seasoning required.

Top with your Poached Egg and add Your Vegetable Crisps for Sweetness and Crunch.