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Barley, Roasted Kabocha Squash and Crispy Kale

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Barley, Roasted Kabocha Squash and Crispy Kale


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If you are looking for a hearty, meatless, meal in a bowl, look no further. This Barley, Roasted Kabocha Squash and Crispy Kale recipe is not only healthy but is a great way to kick off the fall cooking season.

Chewy barley, sweet Kabocha and crispy kale with garlic make up this warm and cozy bowl of deliciousness. And if you are feeling industrious…. finish it off with a sprinkling of sweet, salty and spicy candied pumpkin seeds.

Making barley is simple but you could always save time by making the quick cooking microwave rice mixture from Trader Joe’s. The kabocha squash is simply roasted in the oven and lastly, the kale is prepared with quite a bit of olive oil and cooked for 30 minutes, which is what give it its unique crispiness.

Roasted Kabocha Squash

Kabocha is a Japanese squash with a firm green and white skin with a rich orange flesh inside. When cooked the flesh has a smooth fluffy texture and is sweeter than pumpkin.  It is filled with vitamin A and E, lower in carbs than other squash and high in fiber.

There are a few tips for preparing the kabocha squash. For this recipe, you will cook it with the skin on which makes the preparation much easier. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half from top to bottom. Next, with  large spoon, scoop out the seeds and strings, then cut into 1/2-inch slices. When cooked, the skin softens and can be eaten.

Crispy Kale

My favorite of the kales – also known as cavolo nero, Tuscan kale, Italian kale and dinosaur kale because of its bumpy texture. It is very popular in Italian cooking. When preparing this type of kale, it is usually blanched for 3-4 minutes before sautéing. In this recipe, after blanching, it is sautéed in 1/4-cup of olive oil and garlic over low heat. This preparation results in kale that is very dark green and crispy.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

The recipe for these delicious candied pumpkin seeds comes from “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” by Suzanne Goin. It has been a favorite cookbook of mine for many years although her recipes are somewhat complicated to prepare. She used these pumpkin seeds as a topping for kobacha squash soup so i thought it would work well as a topping here as well.

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Whole kabocha squash


kobocha on baking pan


lacinito kale


crispy kale recipe

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Barley, Kabocha Squash and Crispy Kale

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  • Author: Lisa @ My Studio Kitchen
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


A hearty vegetarian bowl.




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 medium kabocha squash, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Lacinito Kale

  • 1 large bunch kale, ribs removed and torn into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
  • 1 chili di arbol, crushed or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional

Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • A big pinch of: ground cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt to taste



  1. Heat a deep pan with olive oil. When hot, add shallot and sauté for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Add barley and toss in the oil, add 1 teaspoon salt then add 3 cups water and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for approximately 1 hour.


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut the squash down the middle (top to bottom).
  3. Scoop out all the strings and seeds, then cut into 1-inch thick wedges.
  4. Place on large baking sheet lined with foil then brush with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft when pierced with a knife.


  1. Wash then remove ribs and tear the kale into – inch pieces.
  2. Heat a large pot with water and 2 teaspoons salt. When boiling, add kale and cook for 3 minutes, then drain.
  3. Heat a large skillet with 1/4 cup olive oil, add garlic and red peppers and sauté for 3 minutes until starting to color. Add kale and stir to cover with the oil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes until the kale is dark green and crispy.

Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Toast cumin in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Crush them with a mortar and pestle. Or you can used ground cumin.
  2. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds, sugar, spices and a good pinch of salt. Continue cooking for a couple more minutes until the seeds start to snap and caramelize.
  3. Remove from heat, wait 30 seconds then add honey. Place on a plate to cool.


  1. Place barley, kabocha and kale into a shallow (pasta) bowl, top with a sprinkling of feta and candied pumpkin seeds.


This bowl can be simplified and made into a 30-45 minute meal in the following ways:
– make quick grains
– prepare the pumpkin seeds the day before

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop and oven
  • Cuisine: Healthy

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