This recipe is from a fantastic cookbook called Almost Meatless. I heard about it from my friend Katy, and was so intrigued I used my birthday money to buy a copy. It's written by two women, one a meat loving carnivore, and the other is a former vegan. While meat is still used in the recipes, far less is used than in most cookbooks. The focus is on healthy eating for you and for the planet.
Barley Pilaf Stuffed Squash
from Almost Meatless
- 2 small butternut squash, or 1 large squash, halved, seeds scooped out
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup (about 1/2 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 cups hot water
- 1 cup barley
- 4 ounces sweet Italian sausage (or your favorite flavor)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (about 4 large leaves)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375F.
To prepare the squash, rub the insides with the 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper, and transfer toa large roasting pan that will fit all the pieces without crowding. Roast in the oven, cut side down, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the squash is fork tender.
Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, let the mushrooms steep in the hot water in a medium saucepan for about 15 minutes. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms, chop, and set aside. Bring the soaking water to a boil, add the barley, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the barley is cooked through.
While the barley cooks, add the 2 teaspoons oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. cut and remove the sausage casings and crumble the meat into the pan. Cook the sausage until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, shallot, sage, and cranberries, and reserved mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.
Drain the barley through a mesh strainer and add to the sausage pan. Add the vinegar and stir to combine thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm until the squash is ready.
When the squash is done, remove from the oven and stuff the craters with the hot barley mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pecans and serve.