Barley, squash & mushrooms with herb & crème fraîche dressing

Barley, squash & mushrooms with herb & crème fraîche dressing

Andrew Montgomery

This is an earthy, nutty and substantial salad, full of good textures and early autumn flavours. Barley is curious in that it never really overcooks in the way rice can. It retains its charming, slightly toothsome bite, which is just perfect with the buttery, sweet roasted squash and tender mushrooms. The dressing is full of fresh dill, a herb with a reassuring, familiar flavour that I like very much, particularly with mushrooms and grains.


Quantity Ingredient
250g pearl barley
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 large butternut or crown prince squash
1 small bunch sage, leaves picked
6-8 rosemary sprigs
1 small garlic bulb, cloves, separated, skin on
4-5 large portobello mushrooms or similar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons english or dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 good bunch dill fronds, finely chopped, plus extra for serving
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Place the pearl barley in a medium pan, cover with water, and place on a medium heat. Simmer gently for 25–30 minutes, until the barley is tender with a slightly nutty bite. Drain and immediately dress with half the olive oil, the lemon zest and juice and a little salt. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place the squash on a board and cut it in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds, then cut each half into 5 or 6 wedges and place them in a large roasting tray along with the sage leaves and rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves, the remaining olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and black pepper. Cover the roasting tray with foil and place in the oven for 30–40 minutes, until soft. Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms into 3–4cm slices.
  3. Take the roasting tray out of the oven, remove the foil and scatter the sliced mushrooms over and around it. Turn everything together carefully to avoid breaking up the squash, then return it, uncovered, to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked and the squash has taken on some colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. To make the dressing, thoroughly combine the sugar, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Stir in the crème fraîche and the chopped dill, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. To serve, tumble the squash, mushrooms, herbs, garlic and all the juices in the roasting tray together with the barley. Scatter over the parsley leaves, spoon over the dressing, tumble again, then finish with a scattering of dill. Take to the table straight away.
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