Layered Squash, Barley and Spinach Pie

Slice of layered squash, barley adn spinach pieThis recipe looks a lot harder than it is. It’s really fairly simple and didn’t take that long to make. It was tasty too. I didn’t get quite as fancy as the original with the decorations, but it still looked nice. I don’t think it took quite as long to bake as listed, but it’s been a couple of weeks…I’m getting behind on adding recipes we’ve made.

Layered Squash, Barley and Spinach Pie

Adapted from BBC Good FoodLayered squash, barley adn spinach pie

For the filling:

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2lb), peeled and cubed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil , plus a little extra for brushing
  • 1 onion , finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley,
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp  soy sauce
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 8oz ricotta
  • 8oz soft cheese, I used mozzeralla
  • 1 tsp dried sage, or a few fresh leaves chopped
  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

For the pastry:

The original recipe has a crust recipe, but I used my own stand by…

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 5-6 Tbs water
  1. Heat oven to 400 F and roast the butternut squash with 1 tbsp oil for 25-30 mins until tender, then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, 2 Tbsp oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic for 10 mins until soft. Remove about 2/3 of the onions. Add the mushrooms and pearl barley to the pan. Sizzle for a few mins, pour in the stock, then bring to the boil. Bubble fiercely for 30 mins until the barley is tender and sticky and there is no liquid left. Stir in the soy sauce, season and set aside.
  3. While the barley layer is cooking, make the other layers. Stir the zest, ricotta, soft cheese and a good amount of seasoning into the reserved onions until smooth. Take a third of the mixture and gently fold with the sage and roasted squash. Mix spinach into the remaining ricotta mixture with the parsley.
  4. To make the pie, brush a bread loaf tin with a little oil. Make 3 long triple layer strips of foil and lay these across the width of the tin to help you lift out the pie to serve.
  5. Roll out 2/3 of the pie dough and ease into the tin, pressing evenly into the corners and sides – you can be rough with it. Spoon in the spinach layer, smooth the surface, then repeat with the barley and finally the squash layer. Dome the squash mix slightly to give a rounded top. Roll out the remaining pastry to fit, brush the edges with some egg, then press the lid over the top. Trim the excess and crimp or pinch to seal, then decorate with pastry trimmings cut into leaves (add bay leaves, if using, when the pie has 30 mins left in the oven). Can be covered and chilled overnight.
  6. Bake for 30 mins on a backing sheet, then reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another until the pastry is golden brown (30-60 minutes). Let stand for 15-20 mins. Use the foil strips to lift out carefully. Carry to the table and slice thickly to serve.

Pasta with portobello mushrooms, onions, spinach and goat cheese

This recipe was adapted from Bella Eats, adding a package of frozen spinach. It’s a relatively easy and tasty meal that works well for weeknight family dinner. The goat cheese is a nice smooth flavor that the kids like. Using whole grain pasta and adding the spinach makes this a bit more of a healthy one-pot dinner.

Pasta with portobello mushrooms, onions, spinach and goat cheese

Portobello pastaAdapted from Bella Eats

  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and then cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 package (10oz) frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb ziti or penne (preferably whole grain)
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until just done. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain.
  2. In a large sauté pan, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter with 2 Tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  3. In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter with 1 Tbsp of the oi. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved onions, the parsley, spinach and the pepper.
  4. Toss the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water.
  5. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Kale chips

Roasted veggies are a favorite in our house. The kids love roasted broccoli and carrots. We were turned onto kale chips by a neighbor, and we’ve made a few batches and they disappear as fast as they come out of the oven! They are really easy to make too.

Roasted Kale ChipsKale chips

  • One bunch kale washed and dried
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • Dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 375. Tear the kale into pieces, removing the ribs. Toss with olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt if desired. Bake until crisp, 15-20 minutes. They cool quickly and are best still slightly warm.


Japanese Inspired Quinoa with Chicken and Green Beans

I came across this recipe looking around on, Chocolate and Zucchini, a site I’ve used before. It sounded good at the time, but when I went to prepare it, it seemed a bit too spartan. I had already planned on adding chicken, but need some veggies. We had some green beans in the fridge, so I threw those in. We also didn’t have shallots, sesame oil, or sake, so I ended up doing a lot of improv on this one. The idea was a nice start though and the meal ended up being really good. This recipe takes only about the 20 minutes or so that it takes to cook the quinoa. It could also be made with tofu for a veggie option.

Japanese Inspired Quinoa with Chicken and Green Beans

Inspired by Chocolate and Zucchine

  • 1 cup Quinoa, cookedJapanese quinoa with chicken and green beans
  • about 1 Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 lb Chicken breast
  • 1 lb Green beans, ends removed
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2-3 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tsb brown sugar
  • Sriracha pepper sauce

Cook the quinoa according to the package. Slice the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in pan over medium high heat, and saute the chicken until cooked through and starting to brown (~5 min). Add the ginger and cook a couple more minutes. Add the green beans, soy sauce, 2 Tbs rice vinegar and brown sugar. Cook until the green beans are the desired tenderness, adding a little more vinegar if needed to keep things from drying out.

Mix in the cooked quinoa and serve with sriracha pepper sauce.Japanese quinoa with chicken and green beans



Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

This recipe from Smitten Kitchen was really good. Even though I cut the butter in the dough recipe by half (the full 1/2 cup seemed a bit too decadent), with the sour cream it turned out wonderfully. I also skipped freezing the flour and it was probably only in the fridge for 30 minutes. The only problem with the recipe is that our family of 4 finished it all off with no leftovers for lunch–make 2 next time!

Portabella and Cheese “Burgers” on focaccia

Portabella, tomato and basil focaccia burgerThese Portabella and Halloumi “Burgers” looked really good, but I wasn’t able to find Halloumi cheese, which is apparently a cheese that can be grilled on its own…Plus I had a craving for some focaccia. I made the focaccia recipe many years ago when it came out in Fine Cooking, and it is really good…though I had forgotten how long it takes. I was able to squeeze it into a day in the fridge, and one evening after work letting it warm up, rest a bit and cook, but it probably could have used more time to rest (the recipe calls for about 5hrs between taking it out of the fridge and cooking it!). But, it was still really good.


For the burgers we used:

  • 4 Portabella mushrooms
  • 3 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Tomato slices
  • Basil leaves
  • We topped it with either some smoked gouda or feta cheese (didn’t have enough gouda for everyone)

Cornbread salad

This cornbread salad recipe came from two of the sites I use a lot in planning menus, Pink Parsley and Smitten Kitchen. The buttermilk-lime dressing was really good, especially when soaked into a piece of cornbread! Even the cornbread recipe would be a good one to come back to–this one is all cornmeal, which I liked more than most that are usually about 1/2 regular flour.

We added 1/2lb of bacon, cooked and crumbled, to make this a main course salad.