Lenten Recipe 2: Krithari with Spinach, Greek Sea Salt, and Butternut Squash

This is the perfect recipe to bridge winter and spring. Butternut squash is plentiful and can still be found at farmers markets, while spinach is letting us know that spring is right around the corner.

Serves 4-6


2 tablespoons grape seed oil (omit for strict fast)

1 small butternut squash (about 11/2 pounds)—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, finely chopped

Greek Sea salt (or if unavailable, other sea salt) and black pepper

1 cup krithari (pearl barley)

3 cups vegetable broth

4 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (omit for strict fast)

1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil


Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large oven-safe saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to soften, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the barley to the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil; cover the pot and transfer it to oven. Bake until the barley is tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and butter. Combine until the spinach has wilted and the Parmesan has melted. Serve with additional Parmesan.