Cooking the Book: Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley
Ever since I was a kid and discovered Duchess/twice-baked potatoes, I have been madly in love with anything that was cooked, mixed with cheese and other delicious things and then baked again. So I was pretty excited about this recipe.
For the most part, the excitement was totally warranted. This is a fantastic, fall-tastic dish with a great balance of flavors and textures.
This is one of those great vegetarian dishes where you don’t miss meat at all. There is a ton of flavor, great textures and damn, it’s even pretty on the plate. It’s basically a little self-contained casserole.
The balsamic is a great touch; it could use a little more intensity, so I would either use more or make a little reduction.
As much as I hate to admit it. I could have eaten both halves of this acorn squash single-handedly, no problem. It might be that I was particularly hungry, but Mr. K felt the same way. Even with a salad and dessert, this one might not fill you up as-is.
I think we’ll revisit this one, but possibly as a side dish with something more substantial or on its own but doubled.
Since it is like making two little self-contained casseroles, it could conceivably work as one big (little) casserole. Hmm….
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley
From Cooking for Two, 2011
Make sure to use pearl barley, not hulled barley, in this recipe — hulled barley takes much longer to cook.
1 small acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved and seeded
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup pearl barley (see note)
1/2 fennel bulb (about 6 ounces), trimmed of stalks, cored and chopped fine
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
balsamic vinegar, for serving
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.
Brush cut sides of squash with 1 Tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper and lay cut side down on prepared baking sheet. Roast on lower-middle rack until tender (tip of paring knife can be slipped into flesh with no resistance), 45 to 55 minutes. Remove squash from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water to boil in small sauce pan. Stir in barley and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Wipe saucepan dry, add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in fennel and shallot and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, coriander and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Off heat, stir in cooked barley, 1/2 cup Parmesan, parsley, pine nuts and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Flip roasted squash over ans scoop out flesh, leaving 1/8 inch thickness of flesh in each shell. Gently fold cooked squash into barley mixture, then mound mixture evenly into squash shells. Stuffed squash can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 hours. Finish and bake as directed, increasing baking time 25 to 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake on upper-middle rack until cheese melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste and serve.