Baked Summer Squash Stuffed with Barley
Usually green and yellow beans rule the markets around here in the summer but for some reason they are harder to find this year. I wonder why. What we have in abundance though are the summer squashes of all kinds. I have taken a liking this year to the round and plump summer squashes that come in green and yellow. They are lovely to look at and cook with and have made their way into many of the dishes I have been preparing in the past few weeks (see Ribbon Salad here).
Here is a recipe in which I halve the round squashes and bake them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of brown sugar. I then fill the halves with a delicious barley-squash mixture using some of the scooped-out flesh of the squash. Notice that I don’t always bake the barley mixture with the squashes but you can bake them together if you wish, just be careful not to burn the barley on top. The barley mixture can be served on its own as well.
3 round summer squashes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup uncooked barley or 3-4 cups cooked
4 cups water or more
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion or 2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Flesh from the squashes (see directions below)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
To cook the squashes: halve the squashes either around the circumference or vertically (I cut them vertically through the root and flower ends). Scoop out the flesh leaving a sturdy shell and chop the flesh into medium pieces. Set the chopped flesh aside.
Brush the inside of the squashes with olive oil and sprinkle the rim and bowl with the brown sugar.
Place on a foil lined baking pan and cook at 400℉ until cooked through and beginning to brown.
To cook the barley: rinse it under cold running water and then place in a 2 quart pot with water to cover by 2″ (or use 1:4 ratio barley to water). Bring water to a boil, lower heat to a steady simmer, partially cover the pot and let cook until barley is chewy-tender but not mushy. If needed, add water during the cooking. When barley is done (taste it), drain off the excess water, rinse under cold water, drain and spread in a wide dish to allow it to dry a little. Grains should be separated and chewy. You can keep the barley in the fridge for a few days or use immediately.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot add the onion or shallots and cook until fragrant. Add garlic and continue another minutes just until the garlic is fragrant but be careful not to burn it.
Add the chopped squash flesh and cook until they are soft and golden but not mushy. Towards the end of the cooking add the barley, a cup at a time until you reach a pleasant balance of barley to vegetables. You don’t have to use all the barley. Continue cooking until everything is combined and heated through.
Add salt, pepper and half the parsley and the walnuts.
Remove from heat, spoon into the cooked squash shells and garnish with remaining parsley and walnuts.