tasty tuesday ~ stuffed acorn squash w/ barley

Fall flavors burst firth from the plate...
Fall has returned after a 48 hour glimpse at winter here in Northern VA. Yea! In celebration, I made a meal full of fall flavors. In my search for vegetarian meals that are hearty and filling I came across this lovely little diddy. Acorn squash is in season, so the price was right this weekend at the market. This recipe also contains one of my favorite ingredients, fennel. Now I knew I needed to be careful because fennel also happens to be one of my hubby's least favorite ingredients. The recipe only called for one bulb finely chopped. I added a few more cloves of garlic to cover. Garlic rocks! 

It was quite yummy. There was a lovely marriage of textures, creamy squash with the delicate chew of the barley. The flavor palette was quite complex. The fennel, garlic, thyme and coriander blend well for a light, almost sweet back note that was a welcome surprise. My guys enjoyed this dish, but I will say they were looking for the meat. One was not enough for College Boy although I was happy with one. I think it would pair nicely with chicken or pork if your looking for something heavier.

I am glad I gave this recipe a whirl. A little out of my comfort zone but well worth the trip. 

Celebrate the Feast!

This weeks recipe is being shared with Mouthwatering Mondays @ ASouthernFairyTale, Homemaker Mondays @ 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven, Made by You Mondays @ Skip to my Lou,  Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits, Nap Time CreationsBalancing Beauty and Bedlam , Made From Scratch Tuesday @ From Mess Hall to BistroTotally Tasty Tuesday @ Mandy's Recipe BoxDomestically Divine Homemaking Link UpWhat's Cooking Wednesday @ Tales from the Fairy Blogmother, Raising Homemakers, Delicious DishesTempt Your Tummy TuesdayThe King's Court IVThis Chic CooksTuesdays at the Table33 Shades of GreenRecipes I Want to Try @ At Home with Haley, The Lady Behind the CurtainFull Plate @ Miz Helen's Country CottageFriday Flair @ Whipperberry as well as the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop@21st Century Housewife. Head on over to their blogs and check out other fabulous recipes.
barley, fennel, onions, garlic and squash...

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Barley

2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
1 onion minced
1 fennel bulb, tops discarded, halved, cored, and chopped fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1.  Adjust the oven racks to the upper middle and lower middle and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.

2.  Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 teaspoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and lay cut side down on the baking sheet.  Roast on the lower middle rack until tender 45 to 55 minutes.  Remove and increase oven to 450 degrees.

3.  Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir in the barley and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Return to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until the barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

4.  Wipe the saucepan dry and add the remaining teaspoon oil, onion, and fennel.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, thyme, and coriander and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

5.  Off the heat, stir in the cooked barley, 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, parsley, pine nuts, and butter.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Flip the roasted squash over and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/8 inch thickness of flesh in each shell.  Gently fold the squash flesh into the barley mixture, then mound the mixture into the squash shells (about 1 cup of filling per shell).

7.  Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan.  Bake on the upper middle rack until the cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.
Mary L. on Foodista

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