Barley Pilaf with Pomegranates and Roasted Delicata Squash

Barley Pilaf with Pomegranates and Roasted Delicata Squash - overhead view

Quick cooking barley is to Canada what rice is to the rest of the world. This hearty salad is a show stopper side for fall and winter with the addition of bright red pomegranate arils and the flash of yellow and green Delicata squash. The herbs and aromatics underpinning the dish bring all the flavours together.


¼ cup currants

¼ cup white wine vinegar

2 cups water or mushroom or vegetable broth

1 cup quick cooking barley

¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)

½ yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 cup brown button mushrooms, diced

½ teaspoon summer savoury

½ teaspoon thyme

1 large delicata squash, halved, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 – 2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Zest and juice 1 fresh lemon 

4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts

1 cup chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pomegranate, halved, and arils removed and set aside

½ cup toasted whole or slivered almonds, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉.
  2. Place the currants in a bowl and cover with the vinegar. Set aside.
  3. Bring the water or broth to a boil on high heat and add the barley. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the moister is gone. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for another 10 minutes – all  moisture should be absorbed by that point.
  4. Meanwhile heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook until the moisture is almost completely absorbed – about 5 minutes – and add the savoury and thyme. Mix well and remove from the heat. Set aside.
  5. While the mushroom mix is cooking, place the Delicata squash pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment, drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil, sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar and use your hands to toss and coat the pieces. Then, bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and browning. Remove and set aside.
  6. Make the dressing by whisking the ¼ cup remaining olive oil with the lemon zest and juice in a bowl, then add the currants with their vinegar and the scallions and parsley.
  7. Combine the barley, mushroom mix and squash in a large serving bowl, toss with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  8. Garnish with the pomegranate arils and toasted almonds.
  9. Enjoy on its own on a bed of lettuce or as a fun fall or winter side dish.




There are many ways to vary this recipe. I’ve also added some leftover cooked quinoa with the barley. I’ve used fresh chives instead of scallions and thrown in some sautéed kale for more greenery (as you see in the photos here). I’ve also used diced red apples when I don’t have pomegranates. Play and enjoy making it your own.

Keywords: Barley Pilaf with Pomegranates and Roasted Delicata Squash

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