harvest barley bowl + maple cider dressing

september 22nd, 2015

homesweet

On Monday I woke up cold. It was 5:30 am and this wonderful, crisp, breeze was blowing through my window. I burrowed under my down comforter and snoozed for another hour before hopping out of bed to warm up with a cup of tea. Slow and cozy mornings like this are my favorite, and they're downright rare on a Monday. It's September 21st, and a year ago today I moved into my little Beacon Hill apartment. 

Time flies. It really does. This year has gone miles a minute at moments and crawled by at others. A year. How is it possible that a year ago I was driving up the gravel road on the farm, teary eyed and feeling so so heavy-hearted after a difficult goodbye. The chill in the air yesterday took me right back to those moments, and I felt all sorts of nostalgic. Seasons seem to have a way of doing that. The length of the days, the way the air feels, and the produce popping up in farmers' markets brings about new routines in the day to day. 

It wasn't until I moved to the Northeast that I truly learned what cooking and eating seasonally meant, and I soon fell in love with the rich flavors and warm colors fall brought about in the market and in my kitchen each year. This weekend I moseyed through the Boston Public Market, a Sunday pastime that has quickly become part of my weekly routine. I ate a cider donut because it was finally below 70 outside (and because why not), munched on some Vermont cheeses, scooped up a small bouquet of dahlias, and found myself obsessing over all of the colorful winter squash varieties that have popped up overnight. I had at least 5 different kinds in my arms before I zeroed in on these adorable "sweet squash," a miniature version of the butternut squash.  Promising to be a gorgeous orange hue and just sweet enough, I grabbed a few and went on my way. 

Eager to test out the texture of these babies, I decided to roast them simply and mix them in with a few favorites. This warm barley bowl is bursting with color, tasting and smelling warm and spicy as well. It boasts baby kale and dried cherries, hints of thyme and cider vinegar, and is topped off with a poached egg and parmesan for creaminess. It warms you up from the inside out, and is the perfect dish to welcome the new season. 

Happy Equinox friends :)

harvest barley bowl + maple cider dressing

serves 3-4 

ingredients - 

  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 1/2 cups water 
  • 2 "sweet squash" or 1 small butternut squash, peeled, roasted, & diced
  • generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch or two of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 handfuls baby kale
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • handful pepitas
  • 3 - 4 eggs (dependent on serving size), poached
  • a bit of parmesan cheese, shaved

dressing - 

  • 1/3 cup really good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup, the real stuff
  • 1/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bring barley and water to a boil in a medium pot and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water has been absorbed completely, 35 - 45 minutes. *Check every 10 minutes or so to be sure you don't overcook. 

Place your whole squash on a cookie sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. This will soften the tough skin, making it easier to cut into chunks to roast. Remove and let cool. Careful not to burn your fingers, cut the squash in half length wise and peel. Remove the seeds and cut into bite size pieces. Spread the squash out on your cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and toss with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Top with thyme sprigs, and roast in the oven for another 30 minutes, until a bit browned and tender. 

While the squash cooks whisk together the dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper. 

Once the barley and squash are done, combine in a large bowl with baby kale, dried cherries, pepitas, and dressing. Top off this grain salad with a perfect poached egg and some sharp parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!