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Roasted Squash with Leek & Barley Pilaf

Excerpted from Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash Brian Glover. Ryland Peters & Small

35 minutes prep time  |   Serves 4
 
What You Need
  • 1¼ c pearl barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 butternut squash or large wedge of similar winter squash
  • ¼ c olive oil, divided 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp small thyme sprigs, divided
  • 1–2 pinches dried hot pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 2–3 celery ribs, sliced 
  • 4 leeks, thickly sliced
  • 8 oz brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, coarsely shredded
  • ½–¾ c low-sodium vegetable stock
  • Handful of flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp lightly toasted pumpkin seeds, optional
  • 6–8 oz Taleggio or Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
 

Directions

  1. Rinse barley well. Put it into a large saucepan with bay leaf. Cover generously with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, part-covered, for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside until needed.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut squash into 4 to 8 wedges. Do not peel them but scoop out seeds. Rub with half the oil and put on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and scatter over half the thyme and hot pepper flakes. Roast, uncovered, in preheated oven for about 40 minutes until tender and browned. 
  3. Meanwhile heat remaining oil and half the butter in large skillet. Cook celery gently for 5 minutes. Add leeks and most of remaining thyme. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add mushrooms and cook over medium heat until they begin to brown. Toss in carrots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes only. 
  4. Add barley and stir through, add sufficient stock to make grains moist and reheat thoroughly. Check seasoning and stir in parsley, pumpkin seeds (if using), and remaining butter.
  5. To serve, top squash with sliced cheese and remaining few thyme sprigs. Grind over some pepper and either let cheese melt in over or under hot broiler until it bubbles. Serve immediately with barley pilaf.

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