This warm and comforting recipe for a vegetarian-friendly Butternut Squash Grain Bowl is a one pot meal that’s easy to make and deliciously nutritious to eat!
When you host a big Thanksgiving dinner for only four adults and one toddler with a tiny appetite, you end up with a LOT of leftovers. This is a very good thing… for three days or so. And then it kind of becomes an obligation as you’re shoveling your billionth bite of mashed potatoes, gravy and turkey into your mouth. Must… not… waste… food.
I did my best to use up nearly all of our leftovers earlier this week but by yesterday I was ready to throw in the towel and say goodbye to turkey and mashed potatoes for next month. Plus, six days of leftovers may be breaking some food safety rules, so there’s that.
Though I am d-o-n-e with Thanksgiving staples, I am NOT done with comfort food. NEVER. Give me all the warm and hearty winter meals for the next few months, please! And if comfort food comes in the form of a one-pot meal that’s packed with good-for-you ingredients, that’s all the better. And that’s certainly the case with this butternut squash grain bowl!
There are two main ingredients in this bowl: Butternut squash (you probably guessed this one) and barley. There’s no meat in this dish and no need for it because this recipe is creamy, filling, nutritious and 100 percent deliciously vegetarian. And what if I told you that this recipe is high in fiber (thanks, barley!), vitamin C and potassium and includes ingredients that help strengthen immunity (oh hey, flu season!), reduce inflammation and strengthen your bones? Yes, yes, yes!
While all of that is nice, the taste is truly be best part of this dish, so grab a spoon and dig in!
Butternut Squash Grain BowlsPrint
Butternut Squash Grain Bowl
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 50 mins
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: vegetarian, one pot meals
A warm and comforting one-pot recipe for a vegetarian-friendly Butternut Squash Grain Bowl that’s easy to make and deliciously nutritious to eat!
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup barley
- 3 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
- 2 heaping cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- Heat oil in a medium size pot over medium heat. Add onion and thyme and cook until onions are slightly soft, about five minutes. Add barley and allow to cook, stirring constantly, for approximately two minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium-high. Add broth, butternut squash, salt and pepper. Stir constantly and allow to simmer until broth is nearly completely dissolved and butternut squash begins to break down. Use a wooden spoon to help crush any large chunks of butternut squash so it becomes creamy and stir continuously. (This whole process should take 30-35 minutes.) It’s okay if some chunks of butternut squash remain but you want it to be mostly creamy and dissolved to make a thick, rich broth.
- Stir in Parmesan cheese.
- Add spinach and stir until leaves are somewhat wilted. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
- Divide into bowls and enjoy!
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 365
- Sugar: 3g
- Sodium: 699mg
- Fat: 8g
- Carbohydrates: 58g
- Fiber: 10g
- Protein: 20g
(Recipe inspired by my throwback Butternut Squash Wheatberry Risotto)
Nicole @ Bento Momentos says
This looks like a great comforting/tasty meal – thanks for the recipe!
Carol S says
Morning Julie! I assume it’s 2 heaping CUPS of butternut squash? Otherwise, let me know where to find heaping butternut squash please (ha,ha) Thanks,
Eek!! YES! Just updated the post! Thank you for pointing that out, Carol! Definitely confusing!
It didn’t click to me that you meant 2 cups and not 2 butternut squash, so I now have 2 big bowls of roasted butternut squash leftover from the recipe. Just helping to up my vegetable game this week 🙂
Recipe was delicious!
This looks amazing, and so perfect for the cold weather!! I think I’ll try it out tomorrow.
Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups says
This looks amazing! Can’t wait to give it a try.
Patricia @Sweet and Strong says
I am with you I refuse to waste any food. I froze a few turkey, mashed potato and green bean lunches in some of my meal prep containers. And this sounds amazing! I love barley and haven’t made it in far too long.
Girl I’m with you on leftovers! After a few days, I can’t eat the same thing again. Once I start to get sick of leftovers, I throw them into the freezer for an easy meal.
This bowl looks delicious!
Alexis deZayas says
What a great idea! I need to try this on a chilly night!
Looks good! What do you mean by 2 heaping butternut squash? 2 heaping cups? Thanks for clarifying!
Ah yes! Cups!! Sorry for missing that! Unfortunately the recipe plug-in is not letting me update it from my phone but I will update the recipe I soon as I get home. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
I can’t wait to try this! I made the pumpkin paleo otmea and loved it (so did my sister, she made me leave the extras with her)! I’ll have to make this once it cools off here!
So glad you liked it!!!
This looks delicious! Butternut squash is perfect this time of year!
Yum this would be perfect healthy comfort food for a Sunday night…thanks for sharing!
Shelby Adams says
Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to try this! Thank you for sharing.
Kelli @ Hungry Hobby says
Love this grain bowl! So delicious! I’m so done with Thanksgiving leftovers too, but my hubby won’t let them go!
This looks good! I cannot have gluten, so barley is out but what grain would you recommend subbing in? Rice maybe?
I think rice would probably work well!!
Kaitlyn @ Powered by Sass says
We’ve been all about the comforting meals at home lately too! Last night we had chickpeas + peas cooked in sofrito with vegan chorizo balls (kind of like a meatball?) and earlier this week, we had Moroccan-style stew. It was my first time cooking with harissa and loved it! This recipe would be right up our veggie-life alley, and it could easily become vegan!
Hi, Do you think this would still be ok if you omit the cheese? We have a dairy allergy in our house.
I think it would still be really delicious! You may need to add more salt/seasonings for additional flavor but I think it would taste great and the texture would be okay!
Karen Meraw says
I actually made nearly this same thing for my Thanksgiving contribution. But I used yellow lentils and barley – sauteed parsnips and onions and folded those in. 🙂
Oooh! Your version sounds fabulous! Did you follow a specific recipe? I’d love to try it!
So I did actually use this recipe as a base: http://www.parsnipsandpastries.com/lentil-and-barley-salad-pomegranate-feta/
but I used yellow lentils- I cooked the lentils and barley like this recipe, though maybe more like 30 minutes. Skipping the dressing and the other ingredients. I cubed up probably 3 cups of parsnips-> enough for a full cookie sheet and one medium yellow onion. Roasted those in the oven with oregano/S&P and a little oil. Then when full aspects were done, I folded in the veggies to the pan and then put into my serving dish. I left it covered til serving and fluffed it up. It became more risotto than salad
This is simmering on my stove right now! Thought I would mention that I wasn’t sure when to add the garlic powder. Added it in with the thyme and it turned out good!
Yes!!! That’s perfect!!
I made a batch of this and it’s been lunch for the work week! It’s so satisfying and delicious. Thanks Julie!
I made this and it turned out great, thank you! The only change I made was using chopped garlic instead of garlic powder.
How much is a serving size? Half a cup? Thanks.
Looks yummy!! Should I precook the barley or just follow the instructions with dry barley? And I also have the 10 min cooking kind of barley, would that work here? Thank you!!
dry barley! and i haven’t tried it with the 10 minute kind, but i worry that it might get too gummy since it would cook so quickly. if you do try it, please report back and let me know how it goes!
Made this last night and loved it! But I must ask – my boyfriend and I got 3 servings out of it even though I followed your measurements! Do you really get 6 meals or do you use it as a side?
I WISH the recipe app allowed me to clarify serving sizes more! I would say it’s more like 6 side dish servings or three main dish servings. When I make this as a main (which I do almost every time), we usually get 3(ish) large bowls!
OMG thank goodness! I was thinking, I really don’t think my boyfriend and I eat unreasonably large portions but maybe I need to reevaluate 😉 Thanks for clarifying!
The store only had the quick barley and I think it caused the recipe to turn out to being a fail ? I will try again with regular barley!
Chelsea D. says
Just made this last night! Made it for lunches for the rest of the work week. I used Trader Joe’s 10 min barley and putting it in dry it turned out perfectly. I also used Trader Joe’s zig zag butternut squash (1 container) and I was still able to get the butternut squash to a creamy consistency. I added some ground turkey for my husband and the ground turkey goes really well with the flavors in this dish! Will definitely be making this again!
This is one of my favorite recipes! I made it this weekend with cannellini beans and nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. SO GOOD.
I love the idea of making it with nutritional yeast! yum!!
Looks healthy and tasty. It looks like ‘Dry Dalia’ which we cook with vegetables. I would call it new version of healthy Dalia:)
T. ACIA says
Easy and delicious risotto alternative! My hubby and I split the recipe in one sitting though (oops!)
Delicious! Everyone liked it. Kids included!
One of my favorite recipes – I take this throughout the week to work for my lunch and love it every time. Easy to make, delicious, different veggie sources, and the leftovers heat up well. Checks all the boxes!
So happy to hear it! Thanks for letting me know!