⅓ cup pearl barley, rinsed using a wire strainer
1 cup no salt added chicken broth
2 medium-sized acorn squashes
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup chopped button mushrooms
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
½ Northern Spy, Russet or a tart Canadian apple, diced
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ tsp crumbled dried sage leaves
to taste salt and pepper (optional)
½ cup shredded old Cheddar cheese
1. Place barley in a small saucepan with broth and bring to the boil; cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook until tender, about 25 to 35 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 9- × 13-inch (23 × 33 cm) rimmed baking sheet with wet parchment paper. Set aside.
3. Scrub squash well. Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds, scooping out some squash to make a larger cavity. Place squash cut side down on the prepared pan.
4. Bake for 45 minutes or until flesh is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove squash and increase oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). If the parchment paper is burnt, discard and reline pan with clean parchment paper.
5. In a 4-cup (1 L) microwave-safe container, cook onion and garlic in microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir. Add mushrooms and cook for 1 additional minute on high. Stir, add cooked barley, roasted red pepper, apple, walnuts and sage. Mix together and cook on high for 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
6. Place squash in prepared pan and spoon mixture into squash halves. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and mixture is heated through.
Tips and Substitutions
For show appeal we cut the squash sidewise to feature the detail of the edges. There is less of a cavity so you will have more stuffing than needed. Bake off extra stuffing in an oiled casserole dish.
To prevent the squash halves from rolling around in the pan, cut a small slice off the rounded side of each squash half so they will sit flatly in the pan.
For convenience, feel free to buy roasted peppers in a glass bottle. Freeze any leftovers, or roast them.
One serving = 1/2 squash
Per serving: 353 Calories, 17 g Total Fat, 5 g Saturated Fat, 0.2 g Trans Fat, 207 mg Sodium, 44.4 g Carbohydrate, 8.5 g Fibre, 5 g Sugars, 0 g Added Sugars, 11.8 g Protein Carbohydrate Choices: 2 ½