totally stuffed February 4, 2009


It's not often that you hear me say this…but I am completely fooded out. Stuffed. It's been a month of amazing dinners and get togethers and celebrations. There's been so much good stuff happening…and most of it revolves around food.

In the midst of all of the hullabaloo, I have found time to make trips to my local farmers markets. Winter squashes are something that I love to eat and buy with the best intentions of cooking with but they often sit around and end up going unused. I had this acorn squash at the house for several days when I decided to throw together a fridge cleaner stuff acorn squash recipe.

 I have done several types of stuffed squash with grains and meat before…but this was my first completely veggie version. I adored it. The sweetness of the squash – especially with the last minute dusting of brown sugar – plays well against the herbed barley (something that was a total crapshoot and ended up really enhancing the dish) and the chewy texture plays of the fruit. It's also a knockout of a dish and looks way more difficult and impressive than you'd like to let on.

Scented Barley-Stuffed Acorn Squash – serves 2

  • 1 acorn squash – cut in half lengthwise and seeds discarded
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock – i used equal amounts of both
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruits and/or nuts
  • zest of one small orange
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh herbs such as mint or flat leaf parsley
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper – to taste

Place barley,  water and/or stock, star anise and cinnamon in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, until barley is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove star anise pod and cinnamon. Fluff grains with a fork. Remove from heat but keep in a warm place.

While the barley is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Set the squash halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until fork tender – this can depend wildly on your oven. During the last 5 minutes of baking time, sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar on each half and continue baking so the sugar melts and caramelizes a bit.

To serve, mix in your dried cranberries or other dried fruit and nuts – walnuts would be killer in this dish. Using a microplane, zest the orange into the barley, as well. Salt and pepper your filling to taste. At the last minute before stuffing the squash halves, mix in minced herbs. Fill each half of the squash with equal amounts of mixture. Serve immediately.


Mike Stock Feb 4, 2009 01:02 pm

Nice. That filling would work on several things, thanks.

Caroline Feb 4, 2009 07:02 pm

Just found your site. Looking for new ways to enjoy grains like …. pearl barley! Thanks for the recipe and beautiful photo.

chris Feb 4, 2009 07:02 pm

Love this! Looks perfectly delish. :)

brilynn Feb 4, 2009 08:02 pm

It has certainly been a food filled month for me too, even more so than usual.
I made an acorn squash risotto last night though!

Janell Feb 5, 2009 07:02 am

Thanks for this great recipe, I can’t wait to try it! How long do you cook the squash for?

Dona Feb 6, 2009 01:02 pm

Hi I am making this dish and I don’t see a cooking time for the squash.

tami Feb 6, 2009 03:02 pm

Janell and Dona-
Sorry for the omission! I wrote this recipe out in a word file and then copied to the blog – apparently that line didnt make it!
I cooked mine for around 45 minutes. This cooking time can vary quite a bit depending on your oven…so check it and its ready when its fork tender.
Thanks for letting me know that was left out!
– tami

lolita Apr 28, 2009 04:04 am

Looks very delicious! I can’t help cooking it on my own! By the way, hoped to find it in my favorite cookery book , but failed to find. It must be your original recipe, right?