Barley Stuffed Squash

Baked squash is terrific on its own, but when you add stuffing, you get a dish worthy of serving special guests! This stuffing can be made with rice or barley. Pearl barley is the most common type of barley but you can use the more nutritious pot barley, too, if you cook it a little longer.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Servings: 4

  • ½ cup (125 mL) pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1¾ cups (425 mL) water
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) salt, divided
  • 2 acorn squash
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground black pepper, divided
  • 1½ Tbsp (22 mL) canola oil, divided
  • ½ onion, diced finely
  • 1 apple, diced
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) dates, pitted and diced
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) dried thyme
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) molasses
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
  2. In a small pot, combine barley, water, and ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 45 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool. If using pot barley, extend cooking time to 60 minutes. (As an alternative to using barley, cook ½ cup [125 mL] of rice according to package instructions and let cool.)
  3. While the barley is cooking, cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Season with ¼ tsp (1 mL) of salt and ¼ tsp (1 mL) of black pepper.
  4. Lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of oil and place the squash halves face down on the oil. Bake until fork tender, between 30 and 45 minutes. Remove squash from the oven and keep warm by covering with foil. Leave oven on.
  5. Heat ½ Tbsp (7.5 mL) of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft.
  6. Add the barley, apple, dates, thyme, cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp (1 mL) black pepper, garlic powder, maple syrup, molasses and lemon juice. Mix well and cover with a lid. Cook for 3 minutes over medium-low heat.
  7. Spoon the stuffing into the squash halves evenly. Return the squash to the oven to bake for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve hot.


  • Chill leftovers for up to 2 days in the fridge.
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