So, this is a new for me. I have two posts in two days, which is quite an achievement, considering the fact that it takes me ages to edit photos and write up the recipe. But I just had to share this one with you guys. It’s a healthy salad, which is also a complete meal in itself and is absolutely delicious. This one was such a spur-of-the-moment recipe making use of the season’s fresh produce. You know how much I love working with fresh ingredients, don’t you?
It all started with this innocent-looking acorn squash I picked up at the store. The acorn squash is a poor thing, not quite as glamorous as its more famous cousin, the butternut squash. But I like to use acorn squash because it is smaller and just the right size for our family of three.
Of course, I thought about soup, somewhat along the lines of this spicy butternut squash soup or this creamy delicata squash soup. But no. I decided to roast it. The squash was so pretty when I cut it up, I had to roast it as such. I added a generous sprinkle of parmesan so that it would appeal to the kiddo. I also sprinkled it with red chili flakes and dried oregano. You can do whatever herbs and spices you have lying around.
Into a hot oven it goes and comes out as this beautiful, fragrant roasted thing. Isn’t that simply beautiful? I could eat it up as such, and you should too. But that would mean, I still had to make dinner. So I took a quick look in my pantry and decided to pair it with pearl barley to make a complete meal. Barley has way less carbs and more fiber than regular rice and is quite versatile. You can add it to soups, salads or anywhere you need to add some bulk.
I threw in some fresh cilantro and crunchy pomegranates for color and texture. I quickly whipped up a maple syrup, lime and chili salad dressing. Because maple and acorn squash are like besties. You must put them together. The salad needed a little something extra, a certain “bite” and I added some red onions on top while serving. You can omit this if raw onions aren’t your thing or if you are packing this for lunch the next day. You do not want to be the “onion lady”.
Isn’t that parmesan roasted acorn squash the most glorious thing ever? Do try roasting them while the squashes and gourds are at their peak. On to the recipe now.
- For the roasted acorn squash, barley and pomegranate salad,
- Acorn squash - 1
- Olive oil - 1 tbsp
- Red chili flakes - 2 tsp
- Dried oregano - 2 tsp
- Grated parmesan cheese - ¼ cup
- Pearl barley - 1 cup
- Pomegranate arils - 1 cup
- Cilantro leaves - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
- Red onion - a few thin slices (optional)
- Maple syrup - 2 tbsp
- Lime - 1, juiced
- Olive oil - 2 tbsp
- Chili sauce - 1-2 tsp (I used sriracha)
- Salt and pepper - to taste
- Roasted acorn squash salad: Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F and line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper.
- Slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and slice into half moons. You do not need to remove the skin.
- Toss with olive oil, red chili flakes and dried oregano. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on both sides of the slices.
- Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, turning the slices over once midway through the baking.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pearl barley. Rinse barley under running water a couple of times.
- Take 3 cups of water, 1 cup washed barley and a generous pinch of salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook till barley is soft, around 30-40 minutes. The barley should have absorbed the water, but drain if any water is left. Barley tends to make water foam a lot, so keep an eye while cooking.
- To assemble salad, spread cooked barley in a large platter. Sprinkle cilantro and pomegranate on top. Arrange the roasted squash slices. Top with slices of red onion, if desired. Serve with the maple dressing on the side. Recipe follows.
- Maple-lime salad dressing: Whisk together all the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.
2. This roasted acorn squash makes for an excellent side as such. This can be done with any of the other squash like butternut or delicata squash as well.
How’s that for a delicious and healthy meal? Perfect for the days leading up to Thanksgiving and the days after it! Or how about serving this itself as a side on that day? The options are truly endless!
Of you want to eat healthy in the midst of this festive season (just 4 weeks until Christmas!), then do keep this recipe handy. I don’t believe in fad diets, but I do like to eat things that are good for me. And this fits the bill perfectly.
So, tell me, have you tried roasting acorn squash? Which is your favorite squash to cook with? I love acorn squash because it s easier to chop and is the perfect size for our family of three.
Go here for more recipes using fall and winter ingredients.
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