Monday, November 17, 2008

Barley-Squash Pilaf

Let me start by saying that this was the first time I have ever made a meal that flopped. = )

Okay, now that you know that, I must say, with one small alteration, the pilaf turned out edible, even pretty good.

This was my first attempt at cooking pearl barley. I choose to try barley because I had heard that when cooked it has a quasi-chewy texture that sounded interesting. For those who don't know what pearl barley is or how to cook it (as I did not), I will tell you. It is a grain. And you cook it like rice. Sounds simple, right? Or not.

I found several recipes online with barley, and decided on Barley-Squash Pilaf because I had all the ingredients on hand. But when I prepared the meal as they suggest something when horribly wrong. When cooking rice, the rice is supposed to soak up the water it is being cooked in, and barley is supposed to do the same. But my barley was not soaking up the water in the alloted time, so I just let it cook a bit longer. However, in doing so, the squash became over cooked and started to fall apart. I will not be showing you a picture of the end product because it did not look too appetizing. Plus, it didn't even taste good. It was very bland. In an effort to save the dinner (which we were taking to a friends' house to share), I added a can of diced tomatoes. To my delight, this pretty much fixed the dish. So, below is the final recipe that we shared with our friends.

(However, I must warn you, this dish was not popular with the three-year-old crowd, it caused a dramatic reaction. After putting one dino-bite in his mouth, I believe his trembling words were "I can't do it mama, I can't." But I am sure you will enjoy it . . .)

Barley-Squash Pilaf
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz peeled butternut squash, cut in 1/2-in. pieces (2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup barley (pearl, not quick-cooking)
  • 1 C chicken broth + 1 C water
  • 1/2 tsp each dried thyme and rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
~Heat oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion, and pepper and saute for a few minutes.
~Add barley and cook for a few more minutes.
~Add broth and water, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper (if using). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until barley is just tender (or do as I did and wait until the liquid is absorbed).
~Remove from heat and add lemon zest and tomatoes with their juice.


barley image from


Katie said...

YUM!! I LOVE butternut squash!

Mandy said...

Sounds like an interesting cooking experience! Smart idea to add the tomatoes. :)

An Accomplished Woman said...

Love butternut squash but will have to try it that way. Was it good?

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