Here’s a fun and flavourful late-season salad that is perfect to prepare ahead and bring to any get-together. Try it with a zesty farmstead cheese like 5 Brothers from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock, Ontario or Wildwood from Stonetown Artisan Cheese in St. Marys, Ontario.
Place barley in a pot and cover with water about 4 inches (10 cm) above barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain well and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
In a large bowl, toss squash with oil, thyme, and half each of the salt and pepper. Spread onto parchment paper- lined baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes or until tender and golden. Return squash to bowl and stir in barley, tomatoes, arugula, candied nuts (if using), and cheese. Drizzle with dressing and toss well to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together cheese, oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper.
In a small skillet, heat 1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced almonds with 3 tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar and 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter over medium low heat. Cook, stirring for about 8 minutes or until almonds are golden. Spread onto plate and let cool completely before using.