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Author Notes: It's raining like crazy outside and I decided to make this dish for a nice cozy Sunday dinner in front of the fire. You can serve it with a salad and some good red wine and curl up for a nice meal. I included some bacon lardons, but if you want a completely vegetarian dish, they're easy to eliminate. - TheWimpyVegetarian
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup barley grains
- 3 cups vegetable broth, preferably homemade
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
- 4 cups butternut squash chunks
- 2 apples, peeled, cored, diced
- 2 pears, peeled, cored, diced
- 2-3 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 ounces chevre (you can use plain or with herbs)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 2-3 tablespoons Italian parsley, roughly chopped
- Heat up the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the barley and toast it for about 15 minutes until the grains are nicely browned. Add the broth, salt and butter and simmer for about 45 minutes or until al dente. All the liquid should be gone.
- Fry up the bacon lardons until crispy, reserving the bacon fat. Set lardons aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the butternut squash chunks in the reserved bacon fat, spread on a baking sheet, and roast until just getting soft - about 15 minutes. Add the apples and pears to the baking pan and roast another 5 minutes until the apple pieces are tender. Fold the roasted fruits and squash into the cooked barley.
- Macerate the dried cranberries in the Calvados until plump - about 15 minutes. Strain out the cranberries and add to the pilaf, retaining any leftover Calvados.
- Heat up the cream and bring to a simmer; reduce by 1/3 and add the goat cheese. Once the goat cheese has melted, add 1 tablespoon Calvados using the macerating liquid. If 1 tablespoon is not left over from the maceration, just add 1 tablespoon of fresh Calvados. Add salt to round out the flavors and simmer another couple minutes. Add to the pilaf with the bacon lardons and parsley and toss well.
- Serve with a green salad, a glass of red wine and enjoy!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Butternut Squash
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