Here is a dish elegant enough for Thanksgiving or an autumn dinner party, and hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian (vegan) main dish. Favorite fall flavors of apple, squash, and nuts come together in this healthy, whole grain pilaf. Feel free to substitute your favorite grains. Try it with millet, farro, wheatberries or wild rice. Even lentils would be a lovely addition. Substitute fresh sage or thyme for the parsley, if you prefer. Substitute pear for the apple. Try it in a pumpkin. The possibilities are endless.
Roasted, Stuffed Acorn Squash: Barley-Bulgur Pilaf with Caramelized Apple and Almonds
Fall flavors come together in this hearty (vegan) side dish - elegant enough for a dinner party, yummy enough for any night.
Author: Amy Wilson
Recipe type: Hearty Vegetarian Main Dish or Side Dish
- 4 Medium Acorn Squash (I chose a variety that was a lovely orange color, with smooth skin but any variety will do)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- ¼ cup pearled barley
- ¼ cup brown rice
- ¼ cup bulgur
- 1 apple (on the sweeter side, like Honeycrisp or Braeburn), sliced thinly
- 2 Tbsp chopped almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup dried apricots, sliced thinly
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut each acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and add water to the pan so that the squash skins don't get scorched. Add a little dab of butter to each acorn squash. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour until the squash are cooked through, but not collapsing.
- While the acorn squash are baking, prepare the pilaf. In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sautée until onions have softened and started to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the pearl barley, reduce heat and cover. The pearl barley will simmer for a total of 45-55 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the brown rice. Continue to simmer, covered on low. When 15 minutes remain, add the bulgur.
- In a separate frying pan, over medium heat, heat a bit of olive oil. Then add the apple slices, chopped almonds, and apricots. Toss to coat and sautée for a 3 minutes or until apples start to soften and brown. Remove from heat. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Once the grains are cooked through, drain any remaining liquid and toss in the apple mixture. Toss in the chopped parsley, reserving some for garnishing later. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the acorn squashes. Place the stuffed squashes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and garnish with the remaining fresh parsley and serve immediately.