Unlike traditional risotto, which requires some patience and a lot of stirring, this dish uses barley instead of rice, and you can relax while it cooks in the oven.

Canned pumpkin puree is rich in Vitamin A and C, full of fiber, and adds extra creaminess without adding fat. Substituting pearl barley for more traditional arborio rice lowers the calories and further increases the fiber.

If you’re not a fan of scallops, this dish is also delicious with sautéed shrimp or chicken — or you can leave out the meat altogether.


2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup plain canned pumpkin
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
16 large sea scallops, about ½ lb


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a large oven-safe dutch oven or pot with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic for 6-8 minutes or until soft but not browned.


  1. Add spices and pearl barley and continue to sauté for another minute.
  2. Add chicken or vegetable broth, increase heat, and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir, cover pot and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from oven and stir in Parmesan cheese and canned pumpkin. Mix well.



  1. Stir in fresh spinach, cover pot and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until heated through and spinach has begun to wilt.


  1. While risotto finishes baking, remove the abductor muscle from the scallops (the thin muscle attached to the side of the scallop is tough to eat and peels off easily). Blot scallops dry with a paper towel and lightly season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat until oil shimmers and just begins to smoke. Sear scallops without crowding the pan (do this in two batches if necessary) until golden brown, 1 ½-2 minutes. Flip scallops and sear the other side until cooked through, about 1 ½ minutes more. Remove from pan and set aside until risotto finishes cooking.


  1. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot, topped with scallops.



Serves 4.


Calories 323 Total Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 2 g Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 23 mg Sodium 336 mg
Potassium 288 mg Total Carbohydrate 51 g
Dietary Fiber 10 g Sugars 7 g
Protein 18 g