The barley in the sauce gives a meat-like texture, and complements the flavour of the rainbow of vegetable layers. A rich-tasting ricotta cheese topping makes this dish simple to prepare and easy to love.


  • 2 large zucchini, cut into half-inch (1 cm) slices
  • (about 10 slices)
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into half-inch (1 cm) slices
  • (about 8 slices)
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash, rind removed, cut into half-inch (1 cm) slices
  • (about 16 slices)
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil leaves
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) pearl or pot barley
  • 2 14-oz (398 mL) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 14-oz (398 mL) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) sugar
  • 14 oz (400 g) soft 17% M.F. ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375° F (190o C).

Lightly grease two large baking sheets. Arrange eggplant, zucchini and butternut squash slices and roast 15 minutes, turning once, to soften slightly. Remove and set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350° F (180° C).

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, oregano and basil. Sauté until onion is transparent, about 3 minutes. Stir in barley and continue cooking, 3 to 4 minutes, to lightly toast grains.

Remove from heat. Stir in tomato sauce and tomatoes. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk ricotta, eggs and cinnamon until smooth. Set aside.

In a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan, spread 1 cup (250 mL) barley tomato sauce. Arrange eggplant slices close together in a single layer; top with 1 cup (250 mL) sauce. Layer butternut squash slices tightly; spread with remaining sauce. Layer zucchini slices. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the zucchini.

Place baking pan on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Bake for 1 hour, until bubbly and browned on top. Remove and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings (1 ½ cups/375 mL each).

Nutritional information (per serving): Calories: 274; Protein: 11 g; Carbohydrate: 40 g; Fibre: 8 g; Sugars: 13 g; Fat: 8 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Trans Fat: 0.2 g; Cholesterol: 74 mg; Sodium: 107 mg; Potassium: 708 mg