Have you ever gone to a restaurant and fallen in love with a dish? It has happened to me twice. There have been other times, obviously, when the food has been amazing, but not in that way that takes you by surprise, making you fall in love.
This dish, Stewed Butternut Squash with Barley, is a bit of a departure from the first time I had it. My mom and I went out for lunch in a small town called Skaneateles last winter when I was home for the holidays. There was a new cafe where a French boutique used to stand. Maybe because I knew if first as a French boutique, but it seemed like a strange place for a cafe. My mom and I got two dishes to share, hers was a salad of some sort – good but not too memorable. Mine was this butternut squash stew, with a tomato-y broth and capers, served over Israeli couscous. It was something I had never had before, and since Josh doesn’t love squash I usually only get it on holidays and dining out (not complaining – he has to say the same thing about whole food groups – milk, eggs, cheese, meat, fish, etc.). This dish was so good – each bite was like a dissection of what we were eating, and how it got to be so delicious so we could recreate it another time.
Anyways, it took me a year, and a few trials, but I’ve made my version so that it makes my taste buds dance like they did the first time I ate this Stewed Butternut Squash with Barley. Make this recipe on a cold day – the oven will heat up your house and the squash and barley will fill up and warm your tummy.
Stewed Butternut Squash with Barley
If you want to feed an army with a delicious and nourishing meal, you can double the recipe and use the whole squash. To make the dish gluten free, switch the barley out for quinoa or brown rice (will also make the dish cook faster!).
- 1 cup barley
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 (15-ounce) can of whole or diced tomatoes
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- dash or two of cayenne pepper
- 1/2- 1 cup of vegetable broth
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Combine the barley, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat and allow to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the barley absorbs all of the water.
- Combine the squash, tomatoes, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and cayenne in an oven safe dish. Add the vegetable broth, starting with half a cup. You want the dish to have some broth left over after baking, but not be watery.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, checking halfway through to stir and add more vegetable broth if necessary. It’s done when the squash is tender.
- Serve hot, scooping the squash and tomato-y broth over the barley.