Cranberry Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash
3 tbsp. olive oil
Celtic sea salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1 cup pearled barley (or short-grain brown rice), soaked overnight and rinsed
2 cups low-sodium organic vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 portobello mushroom caps, diced
1 cup fresh baby spinach, diced
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries (look for apple juice-sweetened such as Eden brand)
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme

Preheat oven to 450º F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place barley or rice in a medium saucepan with broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer until liquid is absorbed (20-30 minutes).  

Slice acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds, and place in a colander to rinse and separate pulp.  Place clean seeds on a paper towel and set aside to dry.

Brush cut side of squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place face-down on parchment and bake for 30 minutes.

In a medium frying pan, dry-toast walnuts for 6 minutes over medium heat, continuously starring to avoid burning.  Set walnuts aside.

Using same pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-low heat and add onion until translucent.  Add mushroom, cranberries and garlic, along with sage and thyme, and stir approximately 3-4 minutes.  Add cooked barley (or rice) and spinach to warm through.  

Place mixture in cavity of cooked squash and top with walnuts.  Return to oven for 5 minutes.  Enjoy.

*Optional deliciousness:  I topped this dish with the garlic tahini sauce from my roasted cauliflower recipe, and it was amazing!  Highly recommended :)