squash stuffed with barley and chorizo

Walking down the hallway of the psychology building at school, Jordan ran into one of his fellow researchers who was enjoying a stuffed squash. He was instantly jealous. Nothing seemed more appropriate for the onset of fall weather than squash, a rustic grain, mushrooms and sausage all topped with cheese. And he said to me, “Make it so!”

Squash Stuffed with Barley and Chorizo
1 large or 2 medium squash (we used carnival, but acorn would also work. Butternut might be a bit sweet)
1/2 cup barley
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 chorizo sausage
cheese for serving

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 45 minutes, until fork tender.

While the squash is baking, cook the barley. Boil 3 parts water with 1 part barley with a little dollop of butter. Once boiling, turn the heat down and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes, until the barley is tender.

While the barley is cooking, take the sausage out of its casing. Saute the sausage until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. In the same pan, sauté the onion in a the rendered chorizo fat. When the onion is translucent, add the garlic. Saute for a few minutes more and transfer to bowl with the chorizo. Add a little butter to the pan and sauté the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Once browned, add to the chorizo and onion mixture.

When the barley is finished cooking, add it to the onion, chorizo and mushroom mixture. Stir to combine and season again with salt and pepper. You want the filling to be flavorful on its own.

Once the squash is tender, remove from the oven and stuff with the barley mixture. Top with cheese — we used swiss, but Monterey jack, Gruyère or parmesan would all do— and put back in the oven for 10 more minutes to melt the cheese. This dish is very hearty and autumnal. We enjoyed it with a simple salad on the side.