This week is Meat Free Week so here is one of my favourite vegetarian dishes. What makes this scrummy is the sprinkle of cinnamon on the roasted squash – it makes it so sweet and sticky. For more information on going meat free for a week click here

Ingredients: 

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ glass Madeira (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 big handfuls of washed spinach
  • 375g pearl barley
  • 500ml vegetable stock (try and use really good stock as it add bags of flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted pumpkin seeds
  • A grating of Parmesan (optional)

Method:

Set the oven 180c.

Peel, deseed and slice the butternut squash into medium to large slices. Put them into a roasting dish and sprinkle with the ground cinnamon, a pinch of flaked sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and take the leaves off a sprig of thyme and mix it all gently using your hands making sure the squash is well covered with the oil and cinnamon. Pop in the oven for about 25-35 minutes until the squash is soft and slightly sticky and caramelised around the edges. You don’t want to over cook squash so it becomes too soft; you want it to hold it’s shape. When it’s cooked, set it aside ready to be added to the pearl barley.

While the butternut squash is roasting, cook the pearl barley. Place a heavy-based large saucepan over a medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the finely chopped shallots and let them soften. Now add the finely diced carrots, garlic and thyme leaves and cook for a further few minutes allowing the shallots to slightly caramelise and become sweet. Add the pearl barley and give it a good stir so that the oils coat the pearl barely. Cook for a bout two minutes then add the ½ glass of Madeira if you are using it. Let the Madeira come to a boil for about 30 seconds then add the vegetable stock so that it covers the pearl barely. When the vegetable has come to a gentle simmer, lower the heat and cook gently for about 30 minutes until the pearl barley is cooked. Keep an eye on it as it cooks and stir occasionally.

In a clean pan, put in the washed, still slightly wet, spinach and season with salt and pepper. Gently cook and when done set aside ready to be added to the pearl barely when it is cooked.

Once everything is cooked and ready, add the butternut squash and spinach and half the parsley and chives. Give everything a good, but gentle stir to combine.

To serve, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and chives and top with the toasted pumpkin seeds and if you like, a good grating of Parmesan.

Made for My Baba by Fleur, at The Food Stork