Pearl Barley and Vegetable Stuffed Acorn Squash

Have you ever wondered how to prepare the lovely acorn squash you see at farmer's markets or grocery stores?  This recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy this squash.  Use as a side dish or a meal.  Enjoy as a vegetarian dish or add chicken if you'd like.  The presentation is wonderful for a holiday or special dinner.


"Fresh herbs, mushrooms and pearled barley combine with
the creamy acorn squash for a rustic flavorful side dish.
The presentation is wonderful too!"  


INGREDIENTS:
2 acorn squash
1 cup pearl barley
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds (optional)
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste
8 Tbs. heavy cream

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1.     Slice acorn squash in half and remove seeds.

2.     Brush the meat of the squash with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.

3.     Bake for 45 minutes.

4.     While the squash is baking, prepare the stuffing.

5.     In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil.  Add barley, reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from heat, and set aside.

6.     In a skillet; sauté mushrooms, onions, and celery in olive oil until onions and celery begin to soften (about 5 minutes).

7.     Add almonds and seasonings; sauté for 3-4 minutes longer.

8.     In a large bowl, combine vegetable mixture and pearl barley.  Gently toss.

9.     Using a spoon, scoop about half of the meat out of each squash and add to the vegetable/barley mixture.  Mix to combine all ingredients.  (Be careful to not pierce the outer shell.)

10.  Fill each acorn squash with the stuffing mixture.  Pour two tablespoons of cream into each squash.

11.  Bake for 15 minutes.

12.  Serve and enjoy!

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