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Barley w. Spinach & Sweet Baked Acorn Squash

We’re half way through January and right about now a lot of people are giving up on their new year resolutions.  Fortunately for me, I set the bar pretty low!  The gradual introduction of more grains and fiber into our diet has been a fun pursuit.  It gives me the excuse to peak into more cookbooks and test drive recipes that have an interesting combination of ingredients.

For example, take this recipe I found in the amazing Gelles cookbook that I added to my collection a few months ago.  I had some barley sitting in the pantry so I thought I would give it a try.  The only problem is that I have noticed a few things about the recipes in this cookbook.

First, I like to use olive oil instead of vegetarian oil (more frequently listed in her recipes).  Second, the recipes don’t add enough garlic.  In the case of this barley dish, it didn’t list it at all!  I realize this is completely a matter of taste, but I miss garlic in many of the dishes that I have made verbatim from this book.  Besides using olive oil and adding garlic, the only other change I made was to use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.  I didn’t have any vegetable broth on hand so I substituted with what I had.

After you have diced everything and done all of your preparations, start out by adding the oil to a pan.  Sauté the onions, garlic, and celery over medium-high heat until the onions are clear.  Then add the broth, bring it to a boil, and then add the barley.  Bring it back to a boil before turning the heat down.  Cover the pot and let it simmer for about thirty minutes.  Add the spinach, carrots, pepper, and salt to taste.  Cover the pot back up and cook for 15 more minutes.  The final product will be colorful and will complement almost any main dish.

In our case, the main dish wasn’t so much a main dish, but more another side dish.  Acorn squash was on sale at the grocery store so I thought I’d add another pop of color to the plate.  I opened up the squash, scooped out the seeds, and cut it up into thick slices.  I arranged them in a pyrex, drizzled some melted butter over the slices, and then cooked them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  When the timer went off, I took a peak at the squash but they didn’t look quite done.  After about another 10 minutes, I pulled them out of the oven and sprinkled brown sugar and nutmeg over the slices.

So how is that for a grain-y, fiber-y meal?  To top it all off, we had a side salad with the meal.  I think we’re off to a strong start 😉

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